Hackers tried unsuccessfully to take down the websites of presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump this week using the Mirai botnet, according to a cybersecurity firm.
That’s the same zombie computer army that forced Netflix and other prominent websites offline in October.
The report comes amid concerns about hacking and distributed denial-of-service attacks aimed at undermining today’s election or sowing doubts about its results directed by Russia or another state actor. A successful attack that forced either site offline might have added a layer of anxiety.
A botnet is effectively an army of compromised computers and computerized devices that sends so many requests and commands to a website, it overpowers the site’s ability to respond. The Mirai botnet is distinct in that its computing power comes largely from internet of things devices such as digital cameras and video recorders.
The hacker who created the Mirai botnet released the code to control it in September.
Someone targeted Republican nominee Trump’s website with a series of 30-second Mirai botnet DDoS attacks Sunday and followed that up with attacks against Trump’s website and the website of Democratic nominee Clinton on Monday, the cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint reported late Monday.
“So far, these DDoS attacks been limited to the nominees’ website infrastructure and have not targeted—nor affected—any infrastructure associated with the actual electoral process,” Flashpoint noted, adding that the firm has high confidence the attacks were not directed by Russia or another state actor.
“Though these attacks’ targets suggest political motivation, this may not be the case,” the company added. “Widespread concerns of DDoS attacks surrounding election day provide fertile ground for hackers operating from underground forums, as these hackers tend to be primarily motivated by the desire for attention, credibility, or ‘trolling’ via disruption and chaos.”