How Three Teens Broke the Internet

Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News from WIRED

16-11-2023 • 37 mins

In October 2016, a malware tool named Mirai took down some of the biggest sites and services on the web, including Netflix, Spotify, Twitter, PayPal, and Slack. The blackout affected most of the East Coast of the United States, and the size and scope of the outage alarmed the cybersecurity researchers and law enforcement agencies tasked with thwarting such attacks. The code that caused this meltdown was created by three individuals, all in their teens or early 20s. The trio had built a tool that took control of internet-connected smart home devices and used them—like a massive zombie army—to knock the internet’s most vital servers offline. Now, years later, Mirai’s three creators have told their story.

This week, we talk to WIRED senior writer Andy Greenberg about Mirai’s creation, how the code did its damage, and how the three hackers were eventually caught.

Show Notes:

Read Andy’s epic feature story titled “The Mirai Confessions: Three Young Hackers Who Built a Web-Killing Monster Finally Tell Their Story.” The story also graces the cover of the next issue of WIRED magazine.


Andy recommends the book Your Face Belongs to Us by Kashmir Hill. Mike recommends getting a wreath for Christmas instead of chopping down a tree. Lauren recommends Okinawan sweet potato haupia pie bars.

Andy Greenberg can be found on X as @a_greenberg and @agreenberg elsewhere. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.