Recently, there was a DDoS attack on a company called Dyn. What this attack does (simplified) is overload the servers of a company so they can no longer provide the regular services they usually provide.
The company, Dyn, is a company that connects the URL you type in (such as LeChicGeek.com) to the actual location of a website (which is really a bunch of numbers). Dyn is not the only company that does this, but this disrupted the ability of many people to connect to websites such as Twitter and the New York times and disproportionately affected people on the West Coast.
The attacks were done by using ordinary, Wifi connected devices in individuals’ homes.
Reportedly, webcams and DVRs were the main devices used in this attack. But other IoT devices range from toasters to alarm clocks, pressure sensors, valves, thermostats, light bulbs, refrigerators, door and window locks, vehicles, printers, medical devices on up to the power grid. They’re all called “smart.” But they have not been built smart enough to protect themselves and their owners.
So what does this have to do with travel?
Many believe that this DDoS attack was a test. It was a pretty localized attack, but the method used is very scalable. Some also believe that there will be a DDoS attack on Election Day.
A DDoS attack on Election Day probably won’t actually affect the Election. And it wouldn’t disrupt the regular systems that companies, such as airlines, use internally. (This is because their systems would know the literal numerical location of what they are looking for–they don’t rely on a URL).
But it may affect your ability to check-in to a flight online. Many people check-in online and staffing has responded to the move to not doing as many things in person.
If a large number of customers suddenly can’t check-in online, the airlines’ in person systems could potentially be overloaded, resulting in long lines.
An easy way to prevent this is to make sure you are checking in online a day ahead and printing your own tickets.
I was thinking about this because I have a flight on Election Day. I advised those traveling with me to check in a day early as well. This could be my tin-foil-hat speaking, but it’s better to be safe than on-a-really-long-line.
Of course, everything could be totally fine.
Here’s a bit more on the worries about a potential DDoS attack on Election Day on Mashable. Now, I don’t want to scare anyone. The world will continue running (and we on the East Coast survived–yes, even without twitter). But it will be inconvenient if it happens. So it’s better to plan ahead.