Inside Mirai, the Hack that Broke the Internet

In October 2016, a malware tool called Mirai took down some of the web’s biggest sites and services, including Netflix, Spotify, Twitter, PayPal, and Slack. The outage affected most of the U.S. East Coast, and its scale and scope alarmed cybersecurity researchers and law enforcement tasked with thwarting such attacks. The code that caused this collapse was created by three individuals, all in their teens or early twenties. The trio had built a tool that took control of smart home devices connected to the Internet and used them, like a massive army of zombies, to knock the Internet’s most vital servers offline. Now, years later, the three creators of Mirai have told their story.

This week, we talk with WIRED Senior Editor Andy Greenberg about the creation of Mirai, how the code wreaked havoc, and how the three hackers were ultimately stopped.

Show notes

Read Andy’s epic report titled “Mirai’s Confessions: Three young hackers who built a web-killing monster finally tell their story.” The story also graces the cover of the upcoming issue of WIRED magazine.


Andy recommends the book Your face belongs to us by Cashmere Hill. Mike recommends buying a wreath for Christmas instead of cutting down a tree. Laurent recommends Haupia and Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie Bars.

Andy Greenberg can be found on X as @a_greenberg and @agreenberg elsewhere. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snack fight. Bling the main hotline at @Gadget Lab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our musical theme is Solar keys.

How to listen

You can still listen to this week’s podcast via the audio player on this page, but if you’d like to subscribe for free to receive every episode, here’s how:

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or simply press this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts and search for Gadget Lab. If you’re using Android, you can find us in the Google Podcasts app simply by by typing here. We are on Spotify Also. And in case you really need it, here is the RSS feed.

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