Maker Pro News: When Appliances Attack, Maker City Shenzhen, and More

Maker News
Maker Pro News: When Appliances Attack, Maker City Shenzhen, and More

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“Right now, at least, IP cameras are one of the most vulnerable things in the entire Internet of Things.” –Alasdair Allan, security researcher and Babilim Light Industries director

Internet of Oops

This past weekend, a serious attack on the infrastructure of the web rendered major sites like Netflix and Google inaccessible to many North American web users.

Here’s where maker pros should pay attention: though the outages were caused by a distributed denial of service attack — a common hack that overloads web servers by overwhelming them with requests — it swiftly became clear that the devices perpetrating the hijinks were not a botnet of personal computers, as is generally the case, but a zombie army of Internet of Things devices like DVRs and security cameras that had been hijacked by malware.

The incident is a wakeup call to Internet of Things developers and an embarrassment to those whose devices were infected. Chinese electronics outfit Hangzhou Xiongmai, whose cameras were implicated in the attack, has already issued a recall for its vulnerable devices.

If similar attacks follow, it could undermine trust in the Internet of Things among consumers when confidence is already weak. According to a worrisome recent study, some 40 percent of Americans expressed no confidence in the security and privacy of connected devices.

Coincidentally, former Make: Contributing Editor Alasdair Allan (@aallan) expressed skepticism about the security of internet-connected security cameras on stage earlier this month at ThingMonk 2016.

“Right now, at least, IP cameras are one of the most vulnerable things in the entire Internet of Things,” he said. “They’re widely used, they’re widely deployed — mostly by people that don’t know a lot about them — and even when the manufacturers do publish security updates, which is not a given, most people don’t apply them.”


Maker Faire Shenzhen Weathers the Storm

The threat of Typhoon Haima prompted the organizers of Maker Faire Shenzhen (@MakerFaireSZ) to push the event back by two days — but it was still a heck of a show. As the largest Maker Faire in Asia and the fourth largest worldwide, the event was a high-energy peek into China’s premier hardware innovation ecosystem, with guests ranging from MakerFashion (@makefashionCA) and Formlabs to Microsoft and Mouser.

The event, which took place at the waterfront Nanshan Sea World, was organized by Shenzhen’s first makerspace, Chaihuo Maker Space (@chaihuomaker), which Seeed Studio (@seeedstudio) sponsored to create a community for hackers and entrepreneurs in the city.

Speaking of Shenzhen, Quartz recently ran a provocative story about the city. It follows Yekutiel Sherman, an Israeli entrepreneur who launched a crowdfunding campaign for his big idea, a smartphone case that unfolds into a selfie stick that he called Stikbox.

But just a week after he launched a Kickstarter campaign for the product, Sherman saw a clone of it for sale on Chinese retailer AliExpress. Some even used the name Stikbox.

The incident highlights a phenomenon as intriguing sociologically as it is technologically: the fast-moving copycats who spot a promising concept online, figure out how to make their own version, and then undercut the original.

International intellectual property enforcement is an uphill battle, so entrepreneurs are left with few options: notable among them, according to experts interviewed in the story, is either to withhold the “secret sauce” that makes a product tick or to build up a brand name buyers will pay more for.

What’s the role of Shenzhen for maker pros? Are you better off building locally or going overseas? And what would you do if someone stole your idea? Send us your thoughts at


Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web:

A new Sculpteo roundup looks at the best crowdsourcing platforms for product design, broken down into strengths like making an idea grow or a focus on graphic design.

Ultimaker (@Ultimaker) announced the upcoming Ultimaker 3, a dual extruder printer that uses a technology called a “print core,” which seems to be an easy-to-remove hot end for switching materials.

Speaking of 3D printing, Fabbaloo (@fabbaloo) ran a lengthy email from an employee at a large manufacturer who argued that industry has failed to embrace additive fabrication not because it’s uninterested, but because three major barriers remain: limited printing materials, the need for extensive post-process finishing, and the threat that worn-out 3D printed parts will be expensive to replace.

Boston-area youth makerspace Parts and Crafts (@partsandcrafts) is jumping on the subscription box bandwagon by crowdfunding a series of Creative Commons and Open Hardware licensed educational kits that showcase electronic concepts in fun ways — like a DIY lightsaber. The best part? They’ll mail you a new kit each month.

Also, a new paper by UC Berkeley research fellow Anna Waldman-Brown (@annawab) explores whether the maker movement might come to permanently influence the structures of market competition — a question also addressed in a memorable 2015 cover story in The Atlantic.

Do you have an item you’d like to see in the Maker Pro Newsletter? Email us at

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DC Denison is the co-editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

DC manages customer stories at Acquia, the digital experience company.

View more articles by DC Denison

Jon Christian is the co-editor of the Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection between makers and business. He's also written for the Boston Globe, WIRED and The Atlantic.

View more articles by Jon Christian