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Did I break the Internet last week?

Cam looks upsetLike many of you, I was “inconvenienced” by the DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that took down internet address-translation service Dyn last week. Personally, when I realized that many of my customers’ websites were off line – and there was nothing I could do about – I took the rest of the afternoon off. But, when I soon learned that the event has been caused by the hijacking of tens of thousands of simple devices, including wireless routers and IoT (Internet of Things) devices, I started to panic.

Just days before I had installed a new Phillips Hue light system in my apartment. Was it I who broke the Internet?

Indeed in one article I had read, the Phillips Hue light system was cited as one of the bad boys out there because they have not “taken security seriously.” I almost yanked the system out of the wall and scurried around to find some different light bulbs!

Today, I found this article that has relived my guilt and assuaged my fears. Although Patrick Nelson’s article, “Residential routers easy to hack” did initially raise my blood pressure, I quickly found a reference to something called “the Internet of Things Scanner, powered by BullGuard, (which) allows users to check if devices on a network are publicly accessible from the internet.” While not a service to give me a completely clean bill of health, the quick scan did indeed determine that there were no bad actors in my light bulbs – or at least that is what I have determined.

In looking at this issue and all of the associated articles spewing paranoia – like we need more of that in this election season – it appears that much of this comes down to good old human behavior. The biggest fault we have is laziness and complacency. Granted, 99% of the population of people who have wireless routers in their homes and office do not even know there is a way to login and access the backend of the device. But for the few of us who do, how many have not bothered to change the default password and username? I actually did when I purchase the Motorola gateway a few years ago. But, then again, I am a bit of a password nut who regularly drives friends and family crazy with my clever passwords for the millions of devices and applications I own and run.

So, if you are feeling guilty or paranoid, check out the Patrick Nelson article, run the scanner and then go change all of your passwords.

Oh, and then take the rest of the day off. You deserve it!

 

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