Anatomy of a Technology Security Story: Case of the Zombie Refrigerator

If you frequent the technology blogs and websites you probably saw a report, recently, telling us that an army of smart refrigerators had been taken over and were now working in the service of evil.

A closer read might tell you that the actual story is just about a bot-net, this time one which included routers and home devices. And, according to the original source “at least one refrigerator.”

The story could be true. But the attention it is getting is more because of the sensationalism of the headline. We’ve been letting the Internet into our devices, can we trust it?

Most places that reported the story did nothing more than expand on the press release–issued by a company that provides security services. Reporting sensational press releases as fact is not exactly true, but it should give us pause.

The one place that did challenge the story is Ars Technica. Their reporting identified some significant questions about the original study. It’s worth a read.

How did “one refrigerator” expand to an army of zombie refrigerators? How did a press release become a story? Sometimes we think we’re done with journalism. But at its best, good journalism introduced skepticism into the reporting cycle. Now we have to bring it ourselves.

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