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University's internet brought down by cyber-attack making vending machines search for seafood

University's internet brought down by cyber-attack making vending machines search for seafood

An American university’s network was subject to a cyber-attack that caused more than 5,000 internet-connected objects on its campus to continually search for seafood.

This made the internet connection throughout the school almost come to a standstill.

IT staff looked into the slowdown and found that there was a huge amount of abnormal traffic on the network – because of searches all related to seafood.

Someone typing on a laptop keyboard
Malware allowed one user to take over all 5,000 connected objects (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

After investigating, they found that more than 5,000 objects connected to the university’s internet, including things like vending machines and even lamp posts, had been infected with malicious software which allowed someone to control them all at once.

The malware had infected connected objects (called the Internet of Things by the tech industry) by guessing default passwords that hadn’t been changed.

This kind of security breach, where artificial traffic brings a network to a standstill, is called a Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attack.

The unnamed university’s problem was reported in technology company Verizon’s report on the security issues around the Internet of Things.

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