Hackers launched major cyber-attacks on the campaign websites of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the eve of election day, but those attacks proved unsuccessful.
According to analysis from cybersecurity outfit Flashpoint, hackers used a “distributed denial of service” attack to try and knock the sites offline and render them inaccessible to potential voters Sunday and Monday.
At this point, the attackers haven’t actually hit any key election infrastructure–just the sites associated with the GOP and Democratic presidential campaigns.
“So far, these DDoS attacks been [sic] limited to the nominees’ website infrastructure and have not targeted — nor affected — any infrastructure associated with the actual electoral process,” Flashpoint said Monday. “This attack, in addition to other more powerful, higher-profile attacks associated with the Mirai botnet, all align closely with tactics, techniques and procedures commonly executed by hackers operating from underground forums.”
But Flashpoint didn’t attribute blame to state actors, a theme so familiar to the 2016 presidential election cycle. Rather, experts from Flashpoint noted the attacks were likely carried out by “unsophisticated actors.”
“While each of these attacks appear to be distinct and powered by different groups, they were all perpetrated using Mirai-based botnets,” Flashpoint noted.
Mirai-based botnets were implicated in the recent of attacks that rocked the internet, causing outages in many high-trafficked websites like Twitter, Reddit and Airbnb.
But the reason Flashpoint thinks that a whole host of different, unsophisticated actors were involved in these new attacks is because the code behind Mirai is now available open source, which means that other less sophisticated hackers can take advantage of the technology to try and take over insecure devices themselves.
Once under control, these devices then respond collectively to commands issued by hackers, and in this case, it looks like hackers gave the command to target presidential campaign sites with an inordinate amount of traffic to temporarily knock them out. Many of these devices now under malicious control are webcams and baby monitors connected to the internet, but left unsecured with default passwords or other fatal flaws.
“We have been lately seeing more and more of these compromised devices getting involved in classic DoS attacks,” professor of computer science at Northeastern University Engin Kirda said, according to Tech Republic. “I would say that there is a good chance that we will see more IoT devices in cyber attacks going forward.”
It’s not even clear the attacks were politically motivated, as opposed to groups attempting to gain some amount of credibility or notoriety.
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