Oct. 21, 2016 was the day our fridges—the smart ones, at least—finally turned on us. Friday's massive Internet outage, which affected sites including Twitter and Reddit, was caused by hacked "Internet of Things" devices including DVRs, webcams, and smart fridges, according to the Krebs on Security blog. Experts say malware caused "Mirai" targeted poorly protected devices. Allison Nixon, a researcher at security firm Flashpoint, says Friday's attack involved components built by Chinese firm XiongMai Technologies—and it is "remarkable that virtually an entire company's product line has just been turned into a botnet that is now attacking the United States."
To launch a distributed denial of service attack and overwhelm its targets with traffic, the Mirai code infected devices that still had the factory-default password, Popular Mechanics reports. "Your connected refrigerator, your door alarm, your webcams, there’s a proliferation of devices. They're in people’s homes. They're secured by ordinary people who don’t know much about security and don’t change the credentials," University of Colorado professor John Black tells the Denver Post. "Somebody somewhere has figured this out and probed the internet to find these devices." He urges people to use unique passwords for all their devices, right down to smart light bulbs.