Welcome to the latest edition of Web Talk, helping Kirklees website owners to prosper online.

This month I am going to talk about the cyber-attack that occurred on Friday October 21 and prevented popular websites like Twitter, Netflix and Spotify from working.

The attack was a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and affected a large volume of websites for almost 12 hours.

DDoS attacks

A DDoS attack occurs when huge numbers of computers open the same webpage at the same time. Attacks generally involve millions of computers all going to the same internet destination.

The massive increase in traffic causes the website server to stop responding, rendering the website useless.

DDoS attacks are very common, we generally only hear about them when they make the media (high-profile cases have included Sony and Paypal in the past), but they occur more regularly than many people would expect.

The attack on Friday was the largest successful attack of its kind, and it was different.

Historically attacks come from individual computers that have been compromised.

If you click on a file that contains malicious software, often you don’t even know you have done it, the software rests on your computer until it is activated by the hackers.

When called into action the software (called a botnet) instructs your computer to access a particular destination/website. The DDoS attack occurs because millions of computers are doing this at the same time.

The attack on Friday was different because rather than people’s PCs being used, it was webcams, CCTV units, DVRs and routers.

With more and more household items being connected to the internet, there are more devices available to be used in these types of attacks.

Preventing your devices being used

Because so many of our devices are connected to the internet, if a hacker is able to get onto our home networks they are able to massively scale up the size of an attack, because there are more devices available to them at each location.

Hackers often use devices to access our network and then gain access to our PCs, as we become savvier about clicking on rogue files and more than likely have anti-virus in place.

The easiest way to increase cyber security at home is to ensure that you always change the factory default password on the device that you have.

Many devices use the same starting password to make it easier for you to log-on to a new device, but if you take the time to change the password, and ensure each device you have has a different password, you can reduce the likelihood of an unwanted visitor on your network.

It is clear that as our behaviours continue to change and we move to an even more connected world, we have to become more aware of the risks of security, and how taking some simple measures can at least reduce the risk that our data and networks can be compromised.

• To read more on this and other subjects, please visit the blog at www.ascensor.co.uk/blog.

For more information contact andrew@ascensor.co.uk

Twitter: @andrewjfirth

Connect on LinkedIn: andrewjfirth

Ascensor are a Digital Agency providing website design, ecommerce and search engine optimisation.

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