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‘Non-State Actor’ Behind One Of Largest Cyber Attacks In US History

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told an audience Tuesday “non-state actors” appear to be responsible for a massive Friday internet disruption.

Clapper said the Friday attack hacked a large number of internet capable devices, and flooded traffic towards one of the major hubs of the internet. The hub is a major hosting firm for large U.S. websites including Twitter, Netflix, Paypal, and Spotify.

The hackers harnessed internet capable home appliances to send junk traffic toward the internet hub, blocking human users with an army of automated home devices. Home appliances, CCTV cameras, and other appliance items lack the sophisticated security of most other internet capable devices. The current state of security “does not make it difficult for attackers to compromise these devices once they see the benefit of doing so,” cybersecurity firm Symantec warned in 2015.

“All the arrows point away from any sort of political motivation,” Flashpoint researcher and cyber expert Allison Nixon told The Wall Street Journal. Experts instead speculate that the attackers are a “loosely knit social circle of kids and young adults.” Experts believe the circle was able to disrupt 17 out of 20 major data centers responsible for balancing major U.S. internet traffic, marking this a major attack.

The source code for the attack was reportedly released by a hacker known as Anna_Senpai in early October. Hackers reportedly release malicious code when they think they are close to being found out, so they have plausible deniability with law enforcement.

Before attribution of the attack, some feared it was Russian cyber retaliation for the U.S. intelligence community’s allegation that Russia is responsible for trying to interfere in U.S. elections. The intelligence community assessed October 7 it is “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”

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