I Have An “Internet Of Things”?

By Bob Hooper for The Island Connection

So what the heck is this dang “Internet of Things” and why did it crash something a few weeks back (and could do it again easily)? Okay, here goes with a shortened version of a Wikipedia type answer: “The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects (TV’s, toasters, refrigerators, etc.), animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” (source: internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com)

That made no sense right? What it means in “normal speak” is that anything you own that can connect to the internet is part of the IoT. So that fancy refrigerator that can tell you that you are a “gallon” low on milk can also be used to ruin someone’s day in North Dakota.

What happens is some doofus with way too much time their hands decides to shut down a website or a bunch of websites by sending a lot of requests for something. It could be shoes or left handed widgets, it does not matter, what does matter is that it’s sending billions of requesting basically at once.

The network, computers, switches, routers, everything having to do with that business, gets so bogged down that nothing can happen and voila you have a system outage and poor Gary in Minot cannot buy that new pair of swim trucks from Amazon so he can get the heck out of the snow and down to Belize!

It called a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) and it’s nasty. So this is where all the wifi enabled toasters, RFID tags, refrigerators, thermostats, anything connected to the internet in your home (yes that huge 65″ TV in the living room) come into play with the IoT and DDoS. That “doofus” and usually a bunch of others together begin to hack all unsecured IoT products (in this case it was predominantly internet-connected cameras whose default passwords had not been changed), infecting them and making them “Zombies”.

Friday Oct. 21 was the day that many IT Pros realized that a maybe became a reality when millions of separate IoT objects started sending those dang requests to Internet Traffic Company Dyn, which in turn slowed down such giants as Amazon, Twitter and even Netflix just to name a few.

So, when buying these sort of “objects,” always make sure to change the default password, and consider only buying from well-known companies. Also, consider having a pro set them up to protect you (especially the cameras), at least have a good router that will stop incoming or outgoing requests that are not normal.

As with all of my columns if you want help or have questions don’t hesitate to call Rent A Bob at 843.822.7794 or email at [email protected].