Internet service on the East Coast slowed to a crawl recently when hackers coordinated a DDoS attack on a New Hampshire internet switchboard company known as Dyn. Twitter and Reddit were among the services disrupted.
While tech experts considered the attack “inevitable” according to the New York Times, the disruption of service came as a shock to many Americans. Many people wrote off the warnings of security experts as “hype or fear-mongering.”
However, in the wake of the attack by unknown assailants, it is clear that insecure devices connected to the internet pose a threat to the whole system. Most devices like security cameras that hook up to the web have “weak or no password protection.”
Cisco estimates that 15 billion potentially insecure devices are hooked up to the internet and projects that this number could reach 50 billion by 2020. And that could be an underestimate. Intel projects that some 200 billion devices could go online over this time frame.
The DHS is tasked with providing baseline internet defense for the US, but it is constantly trying to catch up with emerging threats. The agency recently focused on helping states patch vulnerabilities in voter registration and result reporting networks.
The FBI investigates security breaches, but doing so takes time. With the election looming on November 8, people are exceptionally fearful of computer breaches that could threaten the integrity of the vote.
A number of entities could be behind the attack on Dyn ranging from hostile foreign countries to hactivists to just plain malicious young hackers. What is clear is that the era of insecure smart devices hooked up to the internet will continue to pose a grave threat to the way of life in the US.