Half the internet shut down last month. This device could’ve prevented it

Over 100,000 connected devices unwittingly served as foot soldiers of the DDos attack

Osman Husain November 24, 2016
Gryphon’s smart wifi router. Photo: Gryphon.

A crippling distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack took down large swathes of the internet last month. Access to sites like Twitter, Reddit, and Spotify was severely affected, with experts claiming that the assault was the largest of its kind in history.

Security researchers believe the main source of the infected traffic was malware that exploited loopholes in IoT-connected devices such as webcams and routers. It’s estimated that over 100,000 connected devices unwittingly served as foot soldiers of the attack, making it at least twice as big as any other DDoS outage.

“We have a serious problem with the cyber insecurity of IoT devices and no real strategy to combat it,” cybersecurity expert David Fidler told The Guardian.

How hackers 'weaponised' everyday devices to mount a cyber attack

Gryphon claims the ambush could have been prevented with its help. The smart wifi router uses machine learning to detect and quell intrusion attempts. That means it’s far more difficult for hackers to insert malicious code into the system.

“Because all the traffic goes through the Gryphon router in your home, it’s learning the behavior of each connected device,” explains co-founder John Wu. “When that behavior changes […] Gryphon will quarantine the device and prevent it from communicating on the network.”

Breaking and entering

John explains that smart wifi routers are now integral to people’s homes. With the average family using 10 internet-connected devices such as speakers, thermostats, and lightbulbs, chances of such events occurring in the future can only increase.

The entrepreneur’s claims should be taken seriously. He’s one of the inventors of the ubiquitous pocket mobile wifi device, and has over two decades of experience in wireless networks and IoT.

Gryphon does more than just guard against impending cyber attacks. It also helps parents monitor internet traffic to shield their children from the dark side of the web. Gryphon’s smartphone app can restrict internet access to a pre-determined list of websites, as well as customize time limits for each user. There’s also an option to block access completely, to allow for more family time.

Maybe 100,000 hijacked devices used in cyber attack: Dyn

If kids need access to a particular site urgently, they can request their parents for permission. The request can be approved immediately and from anywhere in the world.

John explains the ethos behind the product: “I was concerned about my daughters accidentally stumbling onto inappropriate content on the web. When searching for solutions, I couldn’t find anything that worked easily across all devices […] Since all the traffic goes through the wifi router, it’s a natural control point for IoT security.”

The startup claims Gryphon is extremely easy to set up, with installation time just a matter of a few minutes. All you do is plug in the router, download the app, and it’ll take care of the rest.

Gryphon’s already exceeded its Kickstarter target of US$50,000, with 16 days left to run. A few units priced at US$149 are still available for early backers and deliveries are slated to begin in June next year.

This article originally appeared on Tech in Asia.



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