MIAMI – Millions of football fans had to do without their game-day feasts during today’s Super Bowl when hackers launched a massive denial-of-service (DOS) attack against an unknown but large number of kitchens across the country.
Reports of jammed refrigerators, hyperactive ovens and rebellious microwaves began flooding into 911 centers just minutes before the first kickoff for the big game between the Portland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans in Miami’s Sino Weibo Stadium. A preliminary count assembled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation puts the number of affected kitchens at nearly 100,000.
“It was only a matter of time before this happened,” FBI Director Blake Fenton said in a media conference.
Internet-connected “smart appliances” have been involved in hacking attacks almost since they first went online in the early 2010s. Hackers have compromised virtually every “smart” household appliance produced since then, including such seemingly benign objects as thermostats and baby monitors.
Last October’s DOS attack on lawn-sprinkler systems throughout the Southeast during the first game of the World Series is now considered by law enforcement officials to be a test run for today’s assault, an FBI spokesman said.
Today’s troubles appear to be linked to a computer virus perhaps ironically called “e-coli.” It specifically affects kitchen appliances and sets their temperature or cooking controls to the far extremes of their capabilities, while locking the appliance controls so users cannot turn them off. An affected appliance can be shut down only by unplugging it.
Reported problems include refrigerators set to below-zero temperatures, ovens baking or broiling at over 600 degrees, and microwave ovens doubling their power output. At least 700 fires connected to the virus have been reported nationwide, and at least 120 people have been injured.
Hacking victim Marlese Obrahamian of Coral Gables said, “I put a meat loaf in the oven and the next thing I knew, it was on fire. Then I found out my freezer was set to seventy. I’m afraid to plug in my toaster anymore.”
Law enforcement officials would not comment on possible links between the “e-coli” outbreak and last Monday’s deluge of over 600 million spam messages sent throughout the Northern Hemisphere in part by hacked coffeemakers.
The FBI investigation into “e-coli” is ongoing. No organized hacking groups have claimed responsibility for the attack.