“Someone is Learning How to Take Down the Internet”

Let’s hope the timing for today’s blog isn’t auspicious.

Came across an interesting piece on a fairly obscure website called Lawfair, which is “devote[d] to that nebulous zone in which actions taken or contemplated to protect the nation interact with the nation’s laws and legal institutions.”

The column was by a guy named Bruce Schneier, whomThe Economist magazine once called a “security guru.” And what he’s written about the security of the internet should give us all pause:

“Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down.”

How does Schneier know this? He says he can’t give specifics, but in his role as a “security guru,” he’s been contacted by numerous companies who’ve spoken with him about what’s been going on.

But he also notes that this all is consistent with what Verisign  (registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net.) is reporting. If it goes down, there's a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. This quarter’s Verisign trends report said: "in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex."

Schneier suggests circumstantial evidence points to China as the culprit, and that others agree with him, but nothing can be proven.

But it’s an interesting co-incidence that this story appears a day before the clock runs out on the latest strange internet meme, badselfeater.com. It seems weird fake dollar bills were popping up all over the country, leading people to a strange countdown that ends today at 7pm EST/4pm PST (and 00:00 GMT, FWIW). We’re guessing that it’s going to be some kind of viral marketing scheme for a new console game or heavy metal album, which is far preferable to Schneier’s option.