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The Dream of a Fully Connected Future Is Starting to Look Like a Nightmare

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Connecting state and local government leaders

Gadgets connecting the Internet of Things, or IoT, haven’t been designed with the robust security we now take for granted on our phones and laptops

For as long as there’s been an internet, its evangelists have assured us increased connectivity will yield a brighter future.

The web, they’ve said, will bring us closer through new forms of mass communication, connect us to business and government to give us more power over our lives, and deliver a whole new world of goods and services.

We got all that, and almost all of us have benefitted in some way from the fruits of the technology. But we also got massive disruptions and job losses in industries from banking to entertainment, the rise of menacing troll culture and—as we were reminded once again on Oct. 21—a frightening vulnerability to hacking, viruses, and other attacks.

Friday’s distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS, took advantage of the latest wave of innovation that we’ve been promised will only improve our lives: the Internet of Things. By connecting all manner of devices, from cars to appliances to clothing, to the web, we’ll realize more convenience and efficiency. We’ll be able to adjust our thermostat before we get home and have milk delivered when the refrigerator senses we’re running out. According to one analysis, 6.4 billion devices will be online by the end of the year.

But the gadgets connecting the Internet of Things, or IoT, haven’t been designed with the robust security we now take for granted on our phones and laptops. According to technology security expert and author Brian Krebs, yesterday’s attack may have been the result of a program called Mirai, which exploits vulnerabilities in cheaply made cameras and digital video recorders that are connected to the internet:

Mirai scours the Web for IoT devices protected by little more than factory-default usernames and passwords, and then enlists the devices in attacks that hurl junk traffic at an online target until it can no longer accommodate legitimate visitors or users.

Mirai scours the Web for IoT devices protected by little more than factory-default usernames and passwords, and then enlists the devices in attacks that hurl junk traffic at an online target until it can no longer accommodate legitimate visitors or users.

Mirai scours the Web for IoT devices protected by little more than factory-default usernames and passwords, and then enlists the devices in attacks that hurl junk traffic at an online target until it can no longer accommodate legitimate visitors or users.

This article originally ran on Quartz, an Atlantic Media partner site.

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