Viewpoint: Why botnets are the No. 1 cybersecurity threat today

The biggest security threats facing the U.S. are 'botnets,' wrote associate editor of news and commentary for MIT Technology Review Jamie Condliffe.

Botnets are networks of internet-connected devices that, once infected with malware, can be remotely controlled for "nefarious ends," according to Mr. Condliffe. These devices might be used for large-scale assaults like distributed-denial-of-service attacks, which attempt to shut down servers by overwhelming them with data requests.

As an example, Mr. Condliffe noted the Mirai botnet targeted a domain-name-system host used by thousands of websites, which caused internet outages across the East Coast last year. And, as the popularity of Internet of Things devices continues to grow, "far larger networks and chunks of the Internet could be taken down."

"[T]he problem here is that a system could be compromised not by an organization's failure to keep systems up to date, but by an onslaught generated from cheap and poorly secured connected devices in homes and businesses," Mr. Condliffe wrote.

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