The Scariest Thing to Happen in 2016 – “The Internet is Down”
Recently I thought the world was ending. Like literally looking out the window trying to see the giant asteroid that was sure to be plummeting towards Earth. I started to send text messages to my loved ones and think about how I had not crossed everything off my doomsday list yet! When there was no asteroid in sight, I then settled on the idea that this was some horrible pre-Halloween prank. If you don’t know what I’m talking about yet, I’m talking about the scariest day of 2016...Friday, October 21st...the day the internet went down.
Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Shopify, PayPal and the New York Times are just a few of the sites that were affected on this day as a result of several distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the DNS provider Dyn. TechCrunch explains how the attacks took place.
Those of us in the PR and Marketing business realized something pretty huge on this day that we had been taking for granted for quite some time: we are screwed without the internet!
In PR, we make a lot of connections on Twitter. As a marketer, Twitter is our main platform to share and engage with consumers. Not only that, I’m sure I’m not the only one that gets all of my news through my Twitter feed. When Twitter is down, our world is down. But it wasn’t just PR and Marketing agencies that had their world halted for a day. Companies that use Shopify had sales affected. As Katelyn from Vendeve said "Launching something new is stressful at the best of times. But having the internet break on the last day of selling our Squads memberships was downright scary.”
The scariest part of all of this, in my opinion, is that the source of these attacks was from IoT devices. As SCMagazine.com stated, current defenses don't cut it against attacks that exploit the security shortcomings of devices like baby monitors and thermostats. Our technology is getting better and new apps and devices are making our lives easier. But at what security costs? Last week’s attacks clearly reminded us just how vulnerable we are.
So what does all of this mean? Well, I’ve been looking into carrier pigeons but I can’t seem to get them on Amazon Prime. Others seemed to get creative as well last week as it was mainly the East Coast that was affected by the attacks so some people were sending their messages on Slack to their West Coast colleagues and they would then tweet. Here are a few things that I learned from the scariest day of 2016:
Lesson 1: Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
We are all guilty of taking the internet and social media for granted. We have gotten so used to being able to access information anytime, anywhere that we forget that there was a time that all of this didn’t exist. With technology becoming more sophisticated and more hackers out there to prove they can beat it, it’s important to remember that things can go wrong and you need to have a contingency plan for when it does. Have a backup of your contacts emails and phone numbers somewhere other than on your phone. Invest in an external hard drive and use it.
Lesson 2: Remember that your phone can be used for calling
It may seem odd, but those little mobile devices that are attached to our body 24/7 were originally invented to make phone calls. Don’t be afraid to use them as one! Just because Twitter is down, doesn’t mean you can’t pitch a journalist a story over the phone. Heck, it might even be a welcome change for them. Write down a few talking points and don’t forget to smile! People can hear a smile on the other end 🙂 .
Lesson 3: Use Your Network
More often than not, people like and want to help. So don’t be afraid to ask! Network servers are out on the East Coast but not on the West? Oh and you just so happen to have a few West Coasters in your network of connections? Then reach out and ask for help! As long as you’re not asking them to take an afternoon off to help you move (seriously. Don’t ask friends to help you move. No one likes it.), most people can find a few minutes out of their day to get a tweet out or upload an article on your behalf.
Lesson 4: Make Lemonade
Being in PR often times means adding a positive spin to just about any situation, so in times like these try to do the same! Get deadlines extended and embrace the extra time to make that next pitch or article that much better. Or go and take a few minutes to have and finish a cup of coffee while it’s still hot. Or better yet, get some tequila to go with that lemonade!
So this scary day is finally over and you head home. Just when you thought that you’d call it a day and pour yourself a glass, ah who am I kidding, a bottle of wine and cuddle in for some Netflix, you find out those jerks took that away from you too!
My question to these hackers is, with these amazing skills you possess, why not use your powers for good? I have some student loans I wouldn’t mind disappearing or a few extra dollars in my bank account would be cool too.
For this Halloween, I’m going to take it easy. October 21st was scarier than any other Halloween I’ve experienced due to the fact that I rely on the internet so much not only for my job but for everything! At least I won’t have to worry about checking Twitter too much while I’m feeding all of the ghosts and goblins that are out trick or treating.