A senior US intelligence chief has said that "non-state actors" – bored kids or crooks* – are likely behind the high-profile attack on DNS provider Dyn last week.
A massive DDoS attack against Dyn resulted in multiple high-profile websites – including Twitter, Amazon and Netflix – to be unavailable last Friday. US director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that preliminary indications suggested that "non-state actors" rather than spies had launched the assault.
Clapper offered the assessment, which he hedged with caveats, in an interview with CBS television host Charlie Rose at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Asked if the internet attack was done by a non-state actor, Clapper said: "Yes, but I wouldn't want to be conclusively definitive about that yet," adding, "That's an early call."
A group called New World Hackers has claimed responsibility for a DDoS attack. The same group previously took credit for a DDoS attack on the BBC late last year.
Clapper, who oversees US intelligence agencies and reports to the president as a principal advisor on national security, went on to explain that rogue states and random hackers can sometimes pose more of a problem than more capable adversaries.
"We've had this disparity or contrast between the capability of the most sophisticated cyber actors, nation-state cyber actors, which are clearly Russia and China, but have to this point perhaps more benign intent," Clapper said. "And then you have other countries who have a more nefarious intent. And then even more nefarious are non-nation-state actors," he added.
Characterising activities such as the hack against US Office of Personnel Management or Democratic National Committee, blamed on China and Russia, respectively as benign seems odd. Clapper was accused of providing false testimony after he told a congressional committee in March 2013 that the NSA does not collect data on millions of Americans, a line blown apart by the Edward Snowden revelations. ®
* ie, not government-sponsored thespians, as Adrian 4 would probably point out