Why the Internet broke and you couldn’t do anything about it

“Sing, O Muse, sing of the anger of Akamais.” Okay, I’m no Homer and this is no Odyssey, but we mortals are the victims of a fight we didn’t start and which may last longer than the Trojan War. As I write this, on October 21, the Internet is unevenly available to people, with many major sites being difficult or impossible to reach. Those sites aren’t under attack: some of the Internet’s plumbing is.

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against Dyn took down a hunk of the Internet in America on Friday, starting on the East Coast and then hitting the West, because that company provides one piece of networking glue for many major Internet companies. Dyn is a DNS (domain naming system) host, handling the lookup that happens every time any computer or mobile device anywhere in the world needs to convert a human-readable domain name (like macworld.com) into an Internet numeric address, find the appropriate mail server, or retrieve other domain-related details.

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