Hackers will cause chaos around the world in 2019 by attacking the foundations of the internet, a digital security company has predicted.
In its annual report, WatchGuard Technology said cyber-saboteurs could ‘take down the internet’ by targeting its critical infrastructure.
Researchers said these attacks could be carried out by hacktivists or even by nation-states, although it did not say which country it believed would be likely to launch this digital blitzkrieg.
Attackers could use a distributed denial of service (DDoS) assault to attack a major company which provides ‘critical internet services’, the company warned.
A DDoS attack involves flooding a target with some much traffic that it collapses. The modern world is terrifyingly vulnerable to a cyber attack.
The effect of this could be severe that it brings every website with a .com address to its knees at once.
This could stop billions of people from accessing Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and almost every other service which powers the modern world.
‘The internet itself is ripe for the taking by someone with the resources to DDoS multiple critical points on the internet,’ WatchGuard wrote in its report.
‘With nation-state and hacktivism attacks ramping up recently, we could see cyber attackers actually take down the internet in 2019.’
The power hackers now possess was demonstrated in 2016 during a DDoS attack against company Dyn, a DNS hosting company which provides a service which links the domain name (the address you type into a browser) of websites to their IP address (a string of numbers which identifies the location of a site).
TECH Scientists have identified the worst year in human history This hobbled websites run by tech giants including Twitter, Reddit and Amazon.
Watch Guard claimed 99.9% of the ‘autonomous systems’ of the internet are ‘wide open for hostile takeover’.
An autonomous system is a collection of networks managed by a large organisation.
‘The industry already saw the impact of an attack against a critical piece of internet infrastructure when a DDoS attack against DNS hosting provider, Dyn, took down many popular websites,’ the security firm added.
‘Around the same time, security expert Bruce Schneier noted that attackers were probing several unnamed companies that provide similar critical internet services for potential weaknesses.
‘A DDoS attack of this magnitude against a major registrar like Verisign could take down an entire top-level domain [the last bit of a web address, such as .com or .co.uk] worth of websites. ‘Imagine the impact if every single .com address was no longer [accessible].’