Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
They're calling it the first botnet designed for broadband equipment and routers, and that it is. But it's the first of something else: psyb0t, the first Linux botnet.
And even though it's running on hardware devices, and even though it's running on Linux, and an obscure distribution of Linux at that, the basic mechanisms of it aren't that different from "conventional" botnets that run on Windows PCs. There's a lesson here.
Linux seems to be a great platform for these little embedded devices. It's small enough that it can fit in economical hardware, portable enough that you can put it on almost any processor and platform, and it's got great networking tools. This particular bot runs on Linux Mipsel devices ("Mipsel" is the port of Debian Linux on MIPS processors). But it's not hard to see the same thing happening to any sufficiently large population of Internet-facing devices based on Linux or any other platform. I'm especially curious about DVRs now.
We often speak about how malware writers write for Windows because that's where the systems are and because that's where the development tools are, for malware and more generally. The same could be said now of Linux.