Cyber attacks disrupt PayPal, Twitter, other sites

This March 10, 2015, file photo shows signage outside PayPal’s headquarters in San Jose, California (AP)
Updated 21 October 2016

Cyber attacks disrupt PayPal, Twitter, other sites

NEW YORK: Cyber attacks targeting a little known Internet infrastructure company, Dyn, disrupted access to dozens of websites, preventing some users from accessing PayPal, Twitter and Spotify.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the outages that began in the Eastern United States, and then spread to other parts of the country and Western Europe.
The outages were intermittent, making it difficult to identify all the victims. But technology news site Gizmodo named some five dozen sites that were affected by the attack. They included CNN, HBO Now, Mashable, the New York Times, People.com, the Wall Street Journal and Yelp.
US officials told Reuters that the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were investigating.
The disruptions come at a time of unprecedented fears about the cyber threat in the United States, where hackers have breached political organizations and election agencies.
Homeland Security last week issued a warning about a powerful new approach for blocking access to websites — hackers infecting routers, printers, smart TVs and other connected devices with malware that turns them into “bot” armies that overwhelm website servers in distributed denial of service attacks.
Dyn said it had resolved one morning attack, which disrupted operations for about two hours, but disclosed a second a few hours later that was causing further disruptions.
Dyn initially said the outage was limited to the Eastern US. Amazon later reported that the issue was affecting users in Western Europe. Twitter and some news sites could not be accessed by some users in London late on Friday evening.
PayPal Holdings Inc. said that the outage prevented some customers in “certain regions” from making payments. It apologized to customers for the inconvenience and said that its networks had not been hacked.
In addition to the social network Twitter and music-streamer Spotify, the discussion site Reddit, hospitality booking service Airbnb and the Verge news site were among companies whose services were disrupted on Friday.
Amazon.com Inc’s web services division, one of the world’s biggest cloud computing companies, also reported a related outage, which it said was resolved early Friday afternoon.
Dyn is a Manchester, New Hampshire-based provider of services for managing domain name servers (DNS), which act as switchboards connecting Internet traffic. Requests to access sites are transmitted through DNS servers that direct them to computers that host websites.
Its customers include some of the world’s biggest corporations and Internet firms, such as Pfizer, Visa, Netflix and Twitter, SoundCloud and BT.
Dyn said it was still trying to determine how the attack led to the outage but that its first priority was restoring service.
Attacking a large DNS provider can create massive disruptions because such firms are responsible for forwarding large volumes of Internet traffic.


Microsoft ends free Windows 7 security updates on Tuesday

In this Jan. 11, 2010 file photo, a display for Microsoft's Windows 7 is shown at the National Retail Federation's convention in New York. (AP)
Updated 14 January 2020

Microsoft ends free Windows 7 security updates on Tuesday

  • Microsoft is ending support Tuesday for Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 operating systems

NEW YORK: If you’re still using Microsoft’s Windows 7, your computer might soon be at risk.
Microsoft will stop providing free security updates for the system on Tuesday, meaning computers using it will be more vulnerable to malware and hacking.
Users who want to protect their computers need to upgrade to Windows 10. They may also need to buy new computers because older machines might not be compatible with Windows 10.
Tech companies typically phase out older systems after a number of years and focus efforts on updating current versions of software. Windows 7 came out in 2009. Windows 8, which came out in 2012, will have free support end in 2023.
Windows 10 starts at $139 for a basic, “Home” version. Microsoft charges $200 for a “Pro” version meant for businesses and individuals who need its advance features. Windows 10 comes with regular free updates for security and additional features. Although Windows 10 isn’t likely to be phased out anytime soon, older versions will require those updates to keep working.
Microsoft is also ending support Tuesday for Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 operating systems.
Those who run Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise can buy extended protection for up to three years. But it might be worthwhile to just to buy new PCs or get Windows 10.
Microsoft will also be ending support on Oct. 13 for Office 2010 a package that includes word processing and spreadsheet software. Owners need to explore newer versions of Office, including a subscription offering called Office 365.