In 2013 Chris Thomas began searching online and tracking instances worldwide of animal-induced infrastructure outages. The biggest cybervillian? Squirrels.
By the beginning of 2017, Thomas, a security researcher at Tenable Network Security who goes by @Cybersquirrel1 on Twitter, had counted 1,753 power outages caused by animals, 879 of which are attributed to squirrels, who chew through cables and take down powerlines with remarkable regularity. Thomas also tracks cyberattacks by birds, snakes, racoons and more. Even jellyfish shut down a nuclear power plant in 2013.
But no other animal, including humans, comes close to touching the fluffy-tailed acorn-hoarders’ record. “Squirrels aren’t just winning the cyberwar,” Thomas said during a presentation in January. “They’re crushing it.”