Hack­ers: hi­jack­ing our gad­gets

The Week Middle East - - News -

As a lead­ing cy­ber­se­cu­rity re­porter, Brian Krebs was al­ways a likely tar­get for hack­ers, said Ja­cob Sil­ver­man in the New Re­pub­lic. And in Septem­ber, his web­site duly fell vic­tim to the big­gest dis­trib­uted de­nial-of­ser­vice at­tack in his­tory. A few weeks later, some­one help­fully pub­lished the source code for the mal­ware used to power this at­tack. Known as Mi­rai, it scours the in­ter­net for Wi-Fi-con­nected home de­vices vul­ner­a­ble to be­ing hi­jacked (CCTV cam­eras, smart TVs, baby mon­i­tors and the like); then, when the hacker has con­trol of thou­sands of these, it uses them to bom­bard the tar­get web­site with phony traf­fic – over­whelm­ing their net­works, and crip­pling their abil­ity to re­spond to real traf­fic. It was only a mat­ter of time be­fore hack­ers used Mi­rai to strike again, and on Fri­day, that came to pass. This time, how­ever, they didn’t tar­get a blog­ger. In­stead, they went af­ter the in­ter­net’s in­fra­struc­ture, by at­tack­ing a firm called Dyn, a provider of Do­main Name Sys­tem (DNS) ser­vices. DNS acts like a switch­board, said Robin­son Meyer in The At­lantic. It di­rects on­line traf­fic from easy-to-re­mem­ber web­site ad­dresses – e.g. TheAt­lantic.com – to ac­tual web servers. So when Dyn was over­whelmed, dozens of its ma­jor clients, in­clud­ing Twit­ter, PayPal and The New York Times, suf­fered out­ages, and for a pe­riod, mil­lions of peo­ple were un­able to read the news, check their bank ac­counts or buy goods on­line. This time, not much se­ri­ous dam­age was in­flicted – but such at­tacks are be­com­ing an ever-grow­ing threat as we grow more and more re­liant on web-based ser­vices, while fail­ing to ramp up se­cu­rity ac­cord­ingly. What this case high­lights is the in­san­ity of the in­ter­net of things (IoT), said John Naughton in The Ob­server. We don’t need to be able to turn on our ket­tles us­ing our phones – so why risk hav­ing these de­vices? Of­ten cheaply made by small firms, they have noth­ing like the in-built se­cu­rity you’d get with a com­puter. As a re­sult, hack­ers can eas­ily use them to get into Wi-Fi sys­tems – and turn them into weapons. The worry is that as the IoT gets ever big­ger, hack­ers will be able to cre­ate such pow­er­ful “bot­net” armies, IT se­cu­rity sys­tems won’t be able to re­pel them, said Jamie Doward, in the same pa­per. The con­se­quences would be dev­as­tat­ing. The num­ber of men un­der­go­ing va­sec­tomy pro­ce­dures has fallen by nearly two-thirds in a decade, ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures re­leased by NHS Dig­i­tal. Ex­perts say the de­cline is partly down to men hav­ing chil­dren later in life. The Daily Tele­graph

A hacker in the TV show Mr Robot

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