ISIS could be in the middle of trying to take down the Internet – and it may have tried doing so last year.
According to International Business Times, a major attack took place late last year on 13 root name servers – considered the backbone of the worldwide Internet – and it apparently came from the “IS Amaq Agency” app that is used by ISIS to spread its propaganda around the world. The app would have created a botnet to perform a massive “distributed denial of service” (DDos) on the servers.
At the peak of the attack, the servers were receiving 5 million queries per second. It would have taken as few as 18,000 smartphones using the app to conduct the attack. Users would not have known their phones were being used that way, IBT reported. The app is not available in the iPhone App Store or in Google Play.
“I feel certain that the IS news app was the source of the DDoS attack,” cybersecurity expert John McAfee told IBT. “One of my researchers has discovered encrypted packets being sent to the Amaq Agency news app.
“We found the 13 Root Server Addresses in the app memory while the app was running. The addresses did not appear inside the static app. The addresses therefore had to be decrypted at run time. Why would they encrypt the addresses inside the app unless they were trying to hide the true purpose of the app? This is the smoking gun we were looking for.”
The attack, which took place between November 30 and December 1, wasn’t successful, although experts caution that a much larger attack could do damage – even taking down the Internet worldwide.
Cyber security expert Eddie Mize said a downed Internet also could impact the power grid.
“Imagine if the Internet went down for several days. I believe we would see significant power grid failure and potentially loss of emergency services,” Mize told IBT. “This could mean the failure of dams and flood controls, power and water distribution, natural gas distribution and control failure, and more.
“Perhaps the most alarming aspect would be to the financial sector. I believe that loss of the Internet for even a two-week period could cause enough disruption to financial institutions that consumers would lose confidence and this could be catastrophic to the markets. All of this could set up a chain reaction that could send the public in to a panicked tailspin.”
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