Deblog 7: Thing’s Internet

 

‘Honey! Do you know what’s wrong with the toaster?’

She flung her electric toothbrush into the sink and recoiled as it rattled around the porcelain. ‘I have no idea.’ As she watched, the brush began to vibrate more vigorously as it moved toward the edge. She was suddenly frightened by the thought of the toothbrush getting free of the sink and backed out of the room. ‘What’s going on out there?’

He pushed a wooden spoon at the toaster and replied, ‘I think it’s trying to bite me.’

Unable to contain it, she let out a bark of nervous laughter as she walked into the kitchen. Her eyes widened as she saw the toaster on its side, the mesh that ordinarily would hold the bread in place snapping wildly. Her husband used the spoon to keep the toaster back and away from his flesh. ‘What?’ she asked, unable to finish the question.

‘I tried to get some ice out of the auto thing on the front of the fridge and it spit cubes at me. I tried to open the door to get the water pitcher and it was like the door was locked – I couldn’t get it open.’ He glanced at her quickly and looked back at the toaster before it could advance on him again.

Before she could reply, the television above the microwave turned itself on. A reporter, whose face seemed frozen with fear, appeared. ‘Ladies and gentleman, we are receiving local, national, and international reports of … unusual behavior … by appliances.’ The angle of the view changed and the reporter leapt from his chair. An unmanned camera barreled through the scene. ‘We will try to continue broadcasting as long as we can,’ he said from stage left, ‘however, it is unclear –‘.

Before he could finish, the screen went black, the house went dark, and the couple heard screams outside.

Not sure if you’ve heard of IOT, or the Internet of Things; it’s the term nouveau for appliances and such that are connected to the ‘net. If you click the nifty image just below, you’ll visit an article about the Mirai security attack that caused havoc a couple months ago. The article was published 7 November — the day after the US election — because security officials were concerned that an even larger attack could have caused voting problems and such. The point made by the article is that the exponential increase in internet-connected appliances creates increased opportunities for malicious software. Notice the use of menacing terms such as botnet, malware, DDoS attacks. One of the most chilling lines from the article:

Because Mirai is open source, “any adversary can harness those devices, destroy them, or compromise them.

If you thought films like ‘The Terminator’ and ‘Maximum Overdrive’ in which the machines take over were just great cinema, you might want to reconsider.

Mirai botnet
Image courtesy: Pinguino Kolb/The Parallax

 

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  1. Do you remember the movie, Colossus – The Forbin Project? circa 1970. Great movie but the boffins laughed at such a thing happening. Next step: Nanobot warfare 😮