© Greg Nash
LAS VEGAS – Newly detailed malware can knock networks offline with devastating efficiency, although the effected networks might not be the ones intended by the malware’s creators.
The malware was presented by the security firm Arbor Networks on Sunday at the cybersecurity conference DEF CON. It appears to be designed to use internet-connected devices from one network to attack another. In practice, it would likely only knock out the network the devices were attached to off the internet.
But Steinthor Bjarnason, the Arbor Networks researcher who presented the discovery, noted that can be a destructive attack in its own right.
“It’s like inventing the wheel. You cannot control what other people are going to do with the wheel after you invent it,” he told The Hill.
The malware is a variant of the Mirai botnet. Mirai infected internet-connected security cameras and coordinated them to repeatedly access the same server at the same time. The traffic would overwhelm the targeted server with requests and knock it offline. That type of attack is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS).
Mirai was only able to infect devices that circumvented network security measures such as routers and firewalls to allow users to access them through the internet. Bjarnason cited research showing that only around one in 20 devices were not protected by firewalls or routers.