Earlier this month, millions of connected devices—webcams, routers, DVRs—banded together to attack a fundamental cornerstone of the internet’s infrastructure. It happened suddenly, without the knowledge of the gadgets’ owners, and it kept going for hours.
Using a virus called Mirai, hackers commandeered insecure internet-connected devices worldwide and instructed them to throw relentless, repeated bursts of data at a target—this time, an essential service that helps route online traffic to the appropriate destinations—with the goal of overwhelming it. (This is called a denial-of-service attack.) Brian Krebs, a prominent security expert and independent journalist, suffered a Mirai-powered attack on his website just last month. After that, the malware’s source code was made free and available for anyone to access, leaving little doubt we’ll see more of Mirai in the near future.