Saturday, January 02, 2016

FluTrackers & The Linode Cyber Attack

# 10,849

As many of you are probably already aware, has been offline and their website has been unavailable for the past 18 hours. What you may not know is that their hosting company - Linode - has under a massive coordinated cyber attack since early yesterday, and that this is just the latest in a series of attacks which began Christmas day. 

This attack affects far more than just FluTrackers, although I have no information on how many other sites are affected. Linode's data centers in Atlanta, Dallas, Newark and London have all been affected, although only Atlanta remains down.

You can follow the progress of Linode's attempts to mitigate this outage on their status page, which the most recent post shown below:

Update - Around two hours after bringing things back online, attacks on Atlanta have started again which are affecting the entire datacenter. At this time we are being taken back offline to attempt further mitigation. Jan 2, 07:01 UTC

While this problem will be eventually resolved, it is a tangible example of a threat we hear about nearly every day: Cyber Attacks. 

According to a report last April in ComputerWeekly (see Critical infrastructure commonly hit by destructive cyber attacks, survey reveals):
. . . .  that 53% of the respondents noticed an increase of attacks to their computer systems in 2014, and 76% stated that cyber attacks against infrastructure are getting more sophisticated.
Almost a third of the respondents were public entities, with communications, security and finance being the most heavily represented industries. 

Last July, in The Lloyd’s Business Blackout Scenario, we looked at the impact of a prolonged grid down disaster that could be caused by solar flares, EMP, or a cyber-attack.   As we saw in the GridEx 2013 Preparedness Drill, our government is actively looking at ways to mitigate the risks. 

A couple of months ago, well known journalist Ted Koppel published a book called Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, that explores this very scenario - one that outgoing DHS Secretary Napolitano warned about publicly in 2013. 

Without electrical power, water and gasoline doesn’t pump, elevators and air conditioners don’t run, ATM machines and banks close, grocery stores can’t take debit or credit cards, and everything from cooking, to flushing toilets, becomes a major challenge.

While we worry that natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and solar storms could disrupt the power grid, banking & finance, or our communications system - sadly the threat of infrastructure failures from man made sources grows greater every year.

If your family or business emergency plan doesn't consider the very real threat of an extended power outage, you have some work to do.  A good starting place is to revisit an earlier blog called #NatlPrep: Instead Of Cursing The Darkness.