The Net’s Dark Side: Watch People Try to Hack Each Other, Live | Smart News | Smithsonian

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The Net’s Dark Side: Watch People Try to Hack Each Other, Live

A honeypot network tracks global hacking attempts in real time

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The rise of the internet has given rise to a new battlefield. Whether across the country or across the world, hackers work to penetrate the digital defenses of nations, corporations, organizations and individuals.

In a wonderful animated map, computer security company Norse shows who's hacking who in real time. These hacks aren't the ones going after the Pentagon, of course. Instead, says Quartz, Norse's map shows hacking attempts against a “honeypot” network set up by Norse. This isn't all the world's hacking, but it could be a representative view of what that hacking ecosystem looks like. A snapshot of the map is reproduced above, showing some of the baseline back-and-forth hacking attempts from this morning. 

According to Nextgov, hackers try to break into the Pentagon 10 million times every day. The National Nuclear Security Administration fends off the same. The New York Times says that America's universities are facing millions of hacking attempts each week, while way back in 2011 Facebook was facing 600,000 hacking attempts every day.

Though Norse's map shows shots fired both against and from the United States and a load of other countries, it also seems to show China's dominance in this space. If you watch long enough you'll see bursts of massive, coordinated attacks springing out of China, like this one from this morning:

A big burst of hacking attempts emanates from China. Photo:Norse

“At any given time during business hours on Monday in Hong Kong, China led the list of countries where attacks originated, and the US was China’s top target,” says Heather Timmons for Quartz. “But the US was a steady number two on 'attack origins' list, though the targets varied.”

Whether all of those are actually coming from Chinese hackers isn't clear, though. Hackers are pretty good at bouncing their signals around, making attacks appear to emanate from one place even when they really started in another.

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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