Botnet Alert: Your Refrigerator May Be Infected

Jan 27, 2014 By Sharon Solomon

The “smart” home appliances we all are letting into our lives are getting “smarter”. This isn’t a movie plot, nor is it a scientific experiment. Security provider Proofpoint estimates that over 750,000 phishing and spam emails have already been sent out by infected fridges, televisions and other appliances.

Home gadgets were once simple electronic machines. But the internet revolution has taken them to a whole new level. Today we can remotely control our devices at home, programming and tweaking them to our liking.

But unfortunately this convenience comes with huge security risks. It’s time to get acquainted with Internet of Things (IoT)-based cyber-attacks that may be taking place from your home or office at this very moment.

There apparently is no “smart device” immune to the aforementioned hackings. Any device that uses the internet and has minimal computing capabilities can be recruited into a botnet to actively participate in spamming and phishing attacks. To make matters worse, device owners have no way of detecting the hacks.

Botnets are a network of computing stations that serve the hackers to forward spam emails or viruses. This threat can be combated by implementing decent firewalls and antivirus solutions. But “smart devices” such as refrigerators and televisions have virtually no defensive mechanisms against such threats.

Besides the crude spamming techniques, botnets can also be used in Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. In these cases, hundreds or even thousands of “bots” are redirected to a specific website, causing “traffic jams” and shutting down of service. These attacks have become a common commercial weapon.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that more than 200 billion home appliances and gadgets will be connected to the internet by the year 2020. IoT devices still have no proven anti-spam or anti-virus solutions, nor does any dedicated alerting software exist. This is going to be a huge challenge going ahead.

In the meanwhile, there is only one proven way to fight back.

Owners of “smart devices” are advised to look for firmware updates and install them as frequently as possible. All leading manufacturers today release updates and they should not be ignored. Update your “smart devices” and always look out for suspicious findings, such as over-activity and uninitiated powering-on of devices.

Source – Internet Of Things

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Sharon Solomon

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