Security expert describes how you can help stop future cyberattacks

FOX45 | 10.22.16

COLUMBIA, Md. (WBFF) -- A massive cyberattack left Twitter, Netflix, Paypal, Reddit, Spotify, and other popular websites at a standstill on Friday.

The outages are a result of a DDoS, or Distribute Denial of Service, attack, on the large-scale domain manager (DYN). These kinds of attacks are attempts to overwhelm websites with so much traffic that it impairs normal service.

FOX45 spoke with Rich Moulton, a security researcher and subject matter expert at Chiron Technology Services in Columbia. Moulton said the service provider DYN was able to handle Friday's first attack in about two hours.

"So it can be done, it's manageable. But honestly, the bigger part of this is prevention," Moulton said.

Moulton said hackers today will be caught if they use their own computers to attack. So, they use other people's devices. They hack into devices that have hardware inside it and can connect to the internet such as cell phones, baby monitors, smart watches, smart thermostats, treadmills, or even your car.

"Just the fact that you have hardware with an internet connection means that they can use what you have to get what they want," said Moulton.

This means you should monitor your devices' performance so you can stop attacks.

"[They] need to be able to recognize what constitutes normal behavior for the devices and what constitutes bad behavior for the devices. And they need to take action when they see things happen," said Moulton. "You're in your home and you're watching Netflix, for example, it may be because one of the devices in your home is being used in an attack of this sort. At this point, call for help. Hopefully you've identified who you're going to call for help beforehand. And then you can have someone come in, take a look at what's going on, and stop it at the source."

Another commonly-used technique to stop hacks, according to Moulton, is updating your software.

"Service providers and software providers regularly watch the source of attacks that hackers are performing in order to take advantage of their devices. And when they become aware of these attacks they update their software to prevent them from working again in the future."

Moulton said if you don't update your software and your devices, you are left unprotected. He also recommends trusting your observations.

"When they start acting funny, find out why," sad Moulton. "Don't just dismiss it, because it may be that your device is being used in an attack."

Moulton recommends these steps if you notice your devices slowing down:

1. Don't panic

2. Disconnect to all and any networks you may be connected to. At this point, if you are being attacked, the attacker is probably controlling your device across the internet from the connection you have established, so you want to disconnect it.

3. Don't touch or turn off the device. Anything additional you do on the device could distort evidence of the attack.

4. Write down all details you can remember about the attack.

5. Call someone who can help you, preferably someone with a background in cyber security or cyber forensics. Try to figure out this person beforehand.

A post on Hacker News first identified the cyberattack mainly affecting the U.S. east coast. There is no official word on who is responsible.