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Late last month, popular websites like Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and Pay Pal went down for most of a day.The distributed denial-of-service attack that caused the outages, and the vulnerabilities that made the attack possible, was as much a failure of market and policy as it was of technology.We need to proactively discuss good regulatory solutions; otherwise, a disaster will impose bad ones on us.This essay previously appeared in the Washington Post.These devices don't get security updates like our more expensive computers, and many don't even have a way to be patched.And, unlike our computers and phones, they stay around for years and decades.An additional market failure illustrated by the Dyn attack is that neither the seller nor the buyer of those devices cares about fixing the vulnerability. They wanted a webcam — or thermostat, or refrigerator — with nice features at a good price.
We can't afford to ignore these issues until it's too late.
The Internet of Things is bringing computerization and connectivity to many tens of millions of devices worldwide.
These devices will affect every aspect of our lives, because they're things like cars, home appliances, thermostats, light bulbs, fitness trackers, medical devices, smart streetlights and sidewalk squares.
The botnet bombarded Dyn with traffic, so much that it went down. Your security on the Internet depends on the security of millions of Internet-enabled devices, designed and sold by companies you've never heard of to consumers who don't care about your security.
The technical reason these devices are insecure is complicated, but there is a market failure at work.
But a software bug that literally crashes your car is another thing altogether.