Here's Why Your Internet Was Down Today

Credit: Martin Poole / Getty Images

Happy Friday! Hackers are tearing pages out of the Internet’s phone book today.

Digital infrastructure company Dyn (pronounced “dine”) found itself the subject of a distributed denial-of-service attack this morning. By overloading Dyn’s servers with requests for information, hackers grinded the company’s technical operations to a halt. This might not have been such a big problem if Dyn didn’t provide the foundational technology that lets major websites and apps like Reddit, Twitter, PayPal, and Spotify operate. As a result, these and other large sites are fluctuating between “working” and “not working” today.

The specific technology being fooled here is called DNS — domain name service. This is something of the glue that holds the Internet together and makes it useful for human beings. When you type “www.google.com” into your URL bar, DNS is the magic that turns this text into a connection with Google’s servers around the world. With this connection severed in the wake of today’s hack, your browser ends up behaving like a lost person, unable to find what it’s looking for.

Dyn is of course aware of the situation and has been posting updates throughout the day about how the company is responding. As of late this afternoon, there are still ongoing attacks seeking to keep this essential system broken. Per the company’s latest update, its engineers “are continuing to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure.” 

Some sites may work off and on, but this is a major monkey wrench tossed into the gears of how the Internet works. With Twitter down, how will we ever tweet our complaints about Twitter being down?