Here's Why the Internet is Broken Today

A quick explanation of why you can't buy anything on Etsy right now.

By Dave Johnson

If you're having trouble reaching some of your favorite websites today, it's not you. As you may have heard by now, at least a pair of massive attacks on the internet have occurred today, bringing many common sites to their knees.

What's Going On

The assaults weren't directed at specific websites. Instead, hackers launched what's called a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on a company called Dyn. A DDoS attack typically relies on many computers—often PCs infected with malware—to bombard a site with access attempts in order to overwhelm it and take it offline.

Why Dyn? Well, Dyn is a major DNS host. Domain Name Servers are the things your computer or phone needs to visit to know where to find the actual address of a site you want to visit. Type 'facebook.com' into a browser, for example, and the browser will ask a DNS server what the Internet address is for that location. So in a very real sense, DNS servers are the gateways to the Internet. Take them down, and websites become inaccessible.

What's Affected

And inaccessible they are. Two attacks today have rendered many popular sites effectively inaccessible throughout much of the US. The map below shows the geographic concentration of the outages. If you live in a red zone, you're probably not able to do much online today.

Level3/DownDetector.com

Among the most popular sites that have been knocked partly or completely offline are CNN, Etsy, PayPal, Pinterest, Reddit, The Verge, Twitter, Yelp, and Eventbrite.

If you want to watch video or listen to music, you might be distraught to find that sites like HBO Now, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Netflix are also having problems. Gamers: Even the PlayStation Network is affected.

Coping With the Digital Apocalypse

Here's one look at what happens when the Internet goes now. Perhaps this will make you feel a little better about your day:

So there’s not that much you can do except to stockpile food, Laserdiscs, and shoes... and weather out the outage. See you on the other side.

Main image: Marcelo Graciolli/Flickr.