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Someone is learning how to take down the internet

This was written by Bruce Schneider, a noted cyber-security expert in mid-September this year. It looked prescient with the attacks last week on DNS (Dynamic Network Services), a key part of the internet address system, which caused website such as PayPal, Twitter and Netflix, as well as thousands more, to be offline or hard to reach.

This attack used DDOS (distributed denial of service), which is when a server is inundated with requests to such an extent that it is no longer able to cope and shuts down.

The hackers who have undertaken these types of attack in recent months scour the internet using software called Mirai for devices such as webcams, digital recorders and home routers which tend to have minimum security or factory set passwords. These are then used by the hackers as the “vehicle” for the attacks.

It appears that these recent attacks are exploratory and that we will see in the next few months and years attacks of increasing severity, against individuals, companies and organisations and even Nation States.

What can we do? The Internet of Things is with us to stay and we all make increasing use of digital devices, CCTV cameras, online TV systems and even web-enabled household appliances. It is critical that when you have such devices, you change factory password settings as a matter of course so as to ensure that your hardware and software is protected against hackers trawling the web looking for devices to take control of and to use in their attacks.