Discussing the history of the internet, we discussed its beginnings as a webpage linking to another webpage, a directed graph. A blog linking to a New York Times article is an example of this. Eventually, the internet grew, as is clearly evident, from linking from one webpage to another webpage to linking a webpage to an item. The internet has become a vast network of pages and links and machines getting access to these pages. It is interesting to think how so many objects connect to the internet everyday to view and consume this content. Though, not every object on the internet is actually supposed to be connected to the internet, not the public one at least, and yet according Dan Goodin in his article Guerrilla researcher created epic botnet to scan billions of IP addresses , states that a anonymous researcher hacker has found that there thousands of such items connecting to the internet that should not be there, like printers, and webcams for example.
The hacker made a simple botnet program that essentiaully jumped from internet connected device to internet connected device that was either unprotected or had passwords with either “root” and “admin” and was able to infect about 100,000 devices in a single day. When the hacker was done gathering his/her date he/she has conducted the most complete picture of the unsecured internet to date. Here is a picture of 420 Thousand active botnet clients on the word map. The full report can be found here. The research can be considered illegal because it potentially violates federal statues preventing unauthorized access to computers.
There are a number of things I find interesting from this research, one: people still use “admin” as a password, and second: how many things that are connected to the internet have no business being connected to the public internet. This second finding interests me because it is is hard to imagine the network graph on the internet not being complete in some way. If there is a link from one page to another page, from one device to another, there is bound to be a path back the other way, but printers cannot search the web and jump from links to link, they print papers and essays from my computer. They have no reason to be connected to the larger network that is the internet, but the printer has found a way.
It is amazing to see the internet grow in such size and this research also reminds me to update all of my passwords, and double check that all my devices, even the ones I think don’t connect to the internet, are protected.