Janet Leigh in Psycho

Convenience is the real nightmare.

A recent article by ComputerWorld describes a real world scarier than any Halloween coffee fiction, one where coffee machines attack. It’s not all coffee machines mind you, just the ones that are fed after midnight (by “fed” I mean “connected to the internet” and by “after midnight” I mean “at any time of the day”). According to the article, these devices can be hacked to devastating effect.

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Remember that massive internet outage a few weeks ago? Well, it turns out it was caused by a large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) on an estimated 100,000 internet-attached appliances – washing machines, refrigerators, coffee makers, etc. – that were hacked to basically gunk up all the world wide web’s 1’s and 0’s, bringing it to a crippling standstill. According to the article, the cyber-attack is “thought to be the first DoS attack to rely overwhelmingly on a lot of ‘dumb’ appliances that have little processing power of their own but are connected to the internet.”

And more than just strength in numbers, a single hacked device can cause massive amounts of individual damage. A coffee maker, for instance, could be “hacked” – though most of the cyber espionage comes in the form of hackers taking advantage of the fact that most users don’t change the factory default user name and passwords of “admin” and “1234” on their devices – and could be overloaded, causing it to catch fire and leading to thousands of dollars in property damage. It’s like Maximum Overdrive meets Hackers, but for really dumb appliances that have no businesses being connected to the internet to begin with.

That’s how the machines get us. We get all fat and happy on convenience and then BOOM! They turn on us. The next thing you know we’re in some 28 Days Later-like hellish apocalypse where no one remembers how to use a kettle or grind coffee. That’s why I’m sticking to manual brews. My home has never been under siege by my Bona Vita variable temperature kettle. Except for that one time the dog-sitter tried to use it to heat water on the gas stove, but that wasn’t the kettle’s fault. It was my fault for trusting the wrong person.


Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.

*Top image via Psycho. Bottom image regrettably from Zac Cadwalader’s kitchen.

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