The metaverse will have its zombies — and yes, they can get you IRL


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Many of us have seen this scene in so many zombie movies: A howling horde advances on the outpost in the form of one roaring, crawling pile of plagued flesh. “There’s too many of ‘em! Fall back!..” Gunfire, now stuttering and distant. A crazed staccato of the last survivor’s hectic run-for-it… Then, finally, silence.

Mēris (Latvian for “plague”), a modified version of the infamous Mirai botnet, brought some 250,000 “zombies,” or compromised devices, to the party last summer, and the assault they put up would have put the above scene to shame. According to researchers, the botnet was able to throw as many as 21.8 million requests per second at its victims, crashing their overloaded servers in a major Decentralized Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. 

DDoS attacks soared by 37% in 2021, according to a recent report. Botnets made up of hacked Internet of Things (IoT) devices are a major attack vector. And the truth is, this is only the beginning. Some of the processes unraveling on today’s tech scene could play into the hackers’ hands and set the stage for attacks of a whole new volume.

Ever since Facebook’s parent company changed its name to Meta, entire segments of the tech scene have been abuzz with chatter about the metaverse, a VR/AR-fused amalgamation of the real and virtual worlds. In practical terms, at least for now, it means wearing a funny-looking helmet on your head while in a business meeting with animated 3D cartoons of your investors.

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In even more practical terms, this means more connected devices everywhere, both on corporate grounds and at home. The bare minimum for conducting your business through the metaverse — that is, Zoom — requires just two smartphones, but there’s a reason why the…

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