Is someone trying to take down the Internet on election day?

The United States may be under attack this election day — an attack on the Internet.

Level3, a major Tier 1 carrier and one of the largest Internet providers in the world, experienced an unusual number of capacity problems this morning, starting at around 7am ET.

Something happened that threatened to bring the Internet to a crawl in key cities across the US, with a particular focus on the swing states of Florida, the east coast, and parts of the midwest.

While it’s possible there’s a benign technical reason for the Internet to suddenly lose capacity, it’s also possible, a tech expert tells me, that the US is facing a denial of service attack.

The incident reached a peak at around noon Eastern Time, and then appeared to subside for a while, but now has returned in full force. Here’s a chart showing the beginnings of the problem this morning, with the large peak at noon.


Here’s the map of Internet capacity problems around the world at around 1030am ET this morning. Note that there are serious problems in the US, with some additional problems in the UK and southern India.


Here’s that same map around 1130am ET, an hour later. Note how much more intense the coloring, and extent of the problem, in the US at that time:


Here’s a zoom of the US at around that same time, around 1130am ET. Note the midwest, east coast, and Florida were being hit hard:


And here’s the US now, at 250pm ET — while things got a bit better between then and now, they’ve intensified again, and even got worse in the northeast, Texas, California and the center of the country



And here’s a zoom of the northeastern US right now, 3pm ET, showing exactly where they’re hitting. In terms of key electoral states, the effect is worst in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania — while the fourth key state in the east, North Carolina experience some issues.


For comparison sake, here is a map from the large attack the US suffered on October 21, 2016.


Again for comparison-sake, here is the map right now again. You can see how today the outage targeted Florida and Texas and the midwest more, and California less, than last time. You can also see that the East coast is as bad, if not worse, today than it was during the last real attack on October 21.


Even though the chart I posted earlier doesn’t show as many problems right now as the map would indicate, my tech contact says the map is the better indication of actual Internet capacity problems.

It remains to be seen what exactly is causing the Internet capacity problem today. My contact suspect a DDOS attack, but says it’s still possible that this is simply some technical glitch. Still, he says the impact is unusual.

According to anecdotal evidence based on complaints from individuals around the country, the following regions were among those experiencing problems today:

Long distance phone service went out in southern VT.
Internet problems in Costa Mesa, CA.
Greensboro, NC call centers down.
Problems in Albany, NY.

Which raises the question of what impact on the election such an attack could have. First off, there’s get-out-the-vote efforts based on the Web. Those could be taken offline. Second, the reporting of elections results could very well be done via the Internet — that could be delayed. Phone services to get out the vote could be shut down. Any online communication between campaigns, or email get out the vote efforts, could be affected.

One final point, that little capacity problem centered around London. Is the US, or anyone else, trying to block Julian Assange from causing mayhem on election day?

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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3 Responses to “Is someone trying to take down the Internet on election day?”

  1. nikto says:

    Still lacking solid proof of who did the email hacks, just for myself, I think the top suspect would be Conservative/Pro-Trump GOP operatives, following in the tradition of a Karl Rove. IMO, the Russians are the #2 suspect, after GOP hackers.

  2. Or Russia. Though one hopes Putin would appreciate the gravity of Hillary winning on a day that he tried to throw our election. I think Putin won’t know what hit him, if and when she wins.

  3. Phil in FLL says:

    I think Wikileaks has been operating without Julian Assange’s contributions. The Ecuadorian embassy cut off Assange’s Internet access around October 17, but Wikileaks could certainly mount a cyber attack to slow Internet access in the United States even without Assange leading the attack.

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