The group of hackers that effectively shut down the internet Friday are now saying that there’s more on the way, and that Friday was just phase one. The relatively unknown group, self-identified as “New World Hackers,” already claimed responsibility for the massive attack on Twitter, although third-party internet security sources have yet to verify this claim.
In what was perhaps the most debilitating attack on American cyber infrastructure yet, these highly-skilled hackers bombarded internet service company Dyn with junk traffic data through a botnet, overwhelming the system and shutting down linked sites including Twitter, Amazon, PayPal, and others.
Known as distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, this cyber assault tactic can do maximum damage in a short amount of time. According to Fox News, the hacker group claims to have “organized networks of connected devices to create a massive botnet that threw a monstrous 1.2 trillion bits of data every second at Dyn’s servers.”
Initially, many suspected that the attack was state sponsored–possibly funded and orchestrated by Russia, or even China–but those suspicions began to look dubious when WikiLeaks sent out this tweet late Friday:
Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing. We ask supporters to stop taking down the US internet. You proved your point. pic.twitter.com/XVch196xyL
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 21, 2016
The tweet suggests that hackers friendly with the email-leaking collective, and likely sympathetic to founder Julian Assange, were behind the Friday attack.
Early last week, some reports indicated that Assange may have been detained by authorities in Ecuador at around the same time WikiLeaks was preparing to release damning Hillary Clinton emails. Many WikiLeaks supporters felt as though the two incidents were undoubtedly linked. It appeared too coincidental.
Some suggested that the United States government had pressured Ecuador into detaining Assange. Others floated the idea that Assange may have been assassinated. The government of Ecuador denied these allegations, claiming that while Assange’s internet access was suspended, the United States had nothing to do with it. Asserting its own sovereignty, Ecuador stated that it made the decision to cut Assange’s internet on its own.
Taken together, the scant information coming out of Ecuador likely frustrated Assange sympathizers, possibly prompting a technologically adept contingency to take matters into its own hands, and launch a large scale cyber attack to protest the foul play and “prove a point,” as WikiLeaks put it.