Cybersecurity demands more attention

Electronic products made by a Chinese firm are currently under scrutiny because one of the largest Domain Name System services on the East Coast crashed on Oct. 21. Authorities are claiming the firm was responsible for the cyberattack.

The attacks started at 7 a.m. Two more attacks soon followed at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. The attacks were targeted at Dyn, an internet infrastructure based in New Hampshire. Hackers unleashed a distributed denial of service attack, a DDoS, on Dyn, which flooded servers with malicious requests from millions of IP addresses.

A DNS is essentially an address book for the internet. It resolves the web addresses into IP addresses needed to find and connect to the correct servers so a browser can deliver the correct content. The attack overwhelmed these servers and made them incapable of completing this normal process. The attack infected internet-connected devices, such as the products made by Xiongmai Technology Co. Those infected devices became part of an army used by the hackers to go through with this stunning attack.

Xiongmai is recalling its products that are sold in the United States, which consist of mostly parts for surveillance and web cameras. The company stated that the problem was that users were not changing the default passwords on the products, claiming as well that their products are well-protected against cyberattacks. It is not clear who is at fault here, since information about the attack is still being collected. It remains clear, however, that the United States is not ready to defend itself against attacks like this in the future.

The Department of Homeland Security believes that this attack was not committed by another nation, which is simultaneously comforting and terrifying. This can easily be accomplished by a single person since anyone can buy similar items that can cause a cyberattack cheaply. More sophisticated hackers can do a lot worse, according to cybersecurity experts, which is why Xiongmai is not being credited with the attack so quickly.

The only real deterrent is the threat of a counter-hack or physical attack. The United States has shown its ability to do this. It is believed that the United States used a cyberattack to cripple Iran’s nuclear program. The Pentagon has a Cyber Command that is capable of defensive and offensive hacking.

The United States needs to invest in and strengthen its cyber security in order to protect its most vulnerable targets. Recently, a group of Iranians was arrested for allegedly trying to hack into the controls of a dam near New York City. An attack like this would be absolutely devastating and cause unprecedented calamity.