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Vox Sentences: Hope you didn’t need to use the internet for anything today

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Your internet was probably attacked by somebody's fancy refrigerator; AT&T and Time Warner are moving fast toward a merger; an impending refugee crisis (another one!) in Greece.


Begun, these DDOS wars have

Fancy refrigerator Alex Wong / Getty
  • Major sites from Twitter to Spotify to GitHub to PayPal — and, on a few occasions, Vox Media sites :( — were knocked offline at some point across much of the US Friday, during a massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack that's taken place in three waves as of Friday evening. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • DDOS attacks aren't that complicated: They're basically the technical equivalent of being overwhelmed by a weaponized swarm of demanding kindergartners. (Wired has a good explanation of the concept here.) [Wired / Kim Zetter]
  • This specific attack was focused on Dyn, a company that provides domain name services (DNS) — basically, an internet phone book, if you got to choose which book to put your number in. (Some sites, like Pornhub, use more than one DNS provider so got through the attack fine.) [Gizmodo / Michael Nunez]
  • We don't have any idea who's doing this. The US government has launched an "urgent" investigation. WikiLeaks is trying to take credit for it, but without further evidence, you should take that with a large spoonful of salt. [WikiLeaks via Twitter]
  • We do, however, know how it's being done: a network of devices secretly infected with the malware Mirai, turning them into a botnet — a zombie DDOS army. And we have reason to believe that many of those devices were internet-connected appliances — the stuff called the "Internet of Things." [Engadget / Jessica Condit]
  • Internet of Things devices, as Bruce Schneier explains, aren't made with the attention to security that laptops and phones are (and there's no regulation forcing them to improve). [Motherboard / Bruce Schneier]
  • (Vox's Tim Lee points out that Internet of Things devices aren't really worth the danger; so far, they're kind of lame.) [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • The combination of the Internet of Things and Mirai is potent. And since the code for Mirai has now been posted publicly, as an open source project, we may have just seen the dawn of a new era of massive internet attacks. [Gizmodo / William Turton]

Game of AT&Thrones

Game of Thrones logo Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic
  • AT&T is reportedly in "advanced talks" to buy Time Warner, which could create a media/telecommunications behemoth. [WSJ / Keach Hagey, Amol Sharma, Dana Cimilluca, and Thomas Gryta]
  • The talks have accelerated rapidly (going from "informal" on Thursday to "maybe a deal this weekend" on Friday) and come as Time Warner has also entertained interest from companies like Apple. Both of those, to industry observers, are signs that the media industry could be headed for another merger frenzy. [WSJ / Shalini Ramachandran, Dana Mattioli, and Keach Hagey]
  • In particular, owners of media delivery systems — like AT&T — are increasingly keen on also owning the media that gets delivered over those systems. The same reason that Netflix is focusing on its own content, in other words, is why AT&T is now looking to buy the company that owns HBO, CNN, DC Comics, and broadcast rights for the NBA. [Washington Post / Brian Fung and Drew Harwell]
  • (In case you are wondering, this is also why the battle of the cord cutters has already been lost.) [Vox / Todd VanDerWerff]
  • There's a particular bonus for AT&T and Time Warner in pursuing this strategy now: They're both planning to launch new over-the-top TV products to allow non-cable subscribers to access their content online (think Hulu) in the near future. [Variety / Todd Spangler]
  • If this is raising red antitrust flags for you, you might be right. But it would be up to the next administration to block the merger, and no one really knows how aggressive an approach a Clinton or Trump administration will take to antitrust protection in the telecommunications industry. [LAT / Meg James]
  • Of course, arguably, both AT&T and Time Warner already are monopolies — because the entire cable industry is a battalion of petty local monopolies. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]

Trapped

Two refugee children in a stroller Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP
  • A long-feared immigration crisis in Greece may already be at hand. Refugee camps on the Greek islands have been overwhelmed by the influx of tens of thousands of Syrians, threatening to create a much wider emergency for Europe. [Der Spiegel / Eren Caylan, Giorgos Christides, and Maximilian Popp]
  • The proximate cause of the emergency is Turkey. Under an agreement brokered last spring by EU leaders, Greece can send Syrian migrants to live in Turkey. But Greek asylum officials, defying their country's parliament, are growing unwilling to do so out of fear of Turkish human rights abuses. [Politico Europe / Matthew Karnitschnig and Janosch Delcker]
  • As deportations to Turkey stall, new refugees continue to pour into the rapidly deteriorating Greek camps in the islands by the eastern Aegean Sea. On Thursday, Doctors Without Borders issued a blistering report about the 60,000 refugees in "appalling conditions," where children walk without shoes and families live in small tents. [Associated Press / Derek Gatopoulos and Theodora Tongas]
  • Earlier this week, migrants in the camps rioted after an ambulance was slow to help a woman struck and killed by a car. Some threw stones at police and set fire to patrol cars. In September, after false rumors circulated that refugees would be deported to Turkey, someone set fire to the tents at the Lesbos camp and left 4,000 people without shelter. [Josh Lowe / Newsweek]
  • Anti-refugee forces in Greece are building. The far-right Golden Dawn Party has been connected with vigilante patrols on the borders of the camps, and reporters covering the humanitarian emergency have been attacked. [New Statesman / Yiannis Baboulias]

Miscellaneous


Verbatim

  • "In April 2014, Employee B — who worked in the Office of the Administrator — was witnessed viewing porn on his government laptop during work hours by a child who was visiting EPA for the agency's 'Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day,' according to Sullivan's congressional testimony." [E & E / Kevin Bogardus]
  • "Nowadays, most people think of Queens as a multicultural, cosmopolitan hub. But the Queens that I grew up in — the Queens that shaped Donald J. Trump — was far from a tolerant melting pot." [Quartz / Marina Budhos]
  • "It turns out that being sealed in a dome of celestial blackness and invited to contemplate eternity is a terrible date activity for an agoraphobe." [The Baffler / Tania Lavin]
  • "It’s so easy to lose your mind here [in Aleppo, Syria]. You might go out one day to look for food and come back to find that your building has been destroyed and your family killed. More and more people have lost their homes, and now they’re living on the streets asking for money." [The Washington Post / Omair Shaaban]
  • "The Merchant of Venice rejects any confinement of gift, mercy, and love in a private sphere of romance. Love and commerce both depend on risk; both are ventures." [First Things / Peter Leithart]

Watch this: The science behind the Magic Eye craze of the 1990s

Stereograms, explained. [YouTube / Joss Fong and Dion Lee]