Appliance manufacturers are betting big on digital, but European authorities are ill prepared to police the brave new world.

Early morning US East Coast time on 21 October and internet giants Amazon and Twitter start to notice mischief traffic on their sites. The flow soon grows to a torrent so intense that within hours, the titans of internet traffic spin out of control and go black. Tumblr, Reddit, Spotify and Netflix were brought to their knees the same day. The attack was different not just because of the size of the scalps claimed by hackers, but because they had weaponised a vast drone army of toasters, video cameras, washing machines and other ‘internet of things’ home appliances with little or no defences. The Atlantic ran an experiment shortly afterwards, setting up a wifi toaster and watching it come under attack within just an hour of being turned on.

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With the support of thr European Union (LIFE Programme and European COmmission). This work reflects the author's views and does not commit donors.