Is Your Fridge Sending Malicious E-mails?

Nowadays, nearly everything is connected to the Internet. They invented smartphones, tablets, even refrigerators that could do almost anything you want online. However, recent cyber attacks have shown that our appliances could be turning against us.

As reported by a security firm called Proofpoint, a vast number of smart appliances were put in jeopardy in one of the first organized cyber attacks. The appliances that were involved in these attacks are smart TVs, wireless speaker systems, entertainment consoles, multi-media centers, home routers and even refrigerators.

People are starting to get worried that they could be releasing a flood of botnets that send malicious E-mails to others. But, if this attack was any indication, that might a possibility in the near future. More than 100,000 appliances were used in this spam campaign. The attack happened between 23th of December 2013 and the 6th of January this year. The hackers exploited these appliances and sent malicious E-mails to other smart appliances. They wanted to expand their botnet (an army of infected devices). Approximately 750,000 messages were sent.

During these types of attacks, appliances are transformed into „thingbots“ (robotic programs that could be remotely installed on home appliances), and send out SPAM E-mails from ordinary user devices. Hackers use botnets to carry out large-scale actions against particular websites by overwhelming them with traffic.This could possibly be an enormous problem, particularly because more and more companies develop smart appliances, even things like smart thermostats or smart smoke detectors.

The Internet security company called McAfee claim they tracked around 100,000 malware each day in 2012, which was a 44% increase over 2011.
The Internet security company called McAfee claim they tracked around 100,000 malware each day in 2012, which was a 44% increase over 2011.

Botnets are already a huge security matter and the development of thingbots could make these circumstances even worse than they are now.

The malware gets installed on kitchen appliances which have computer processors onboard and behave as a web server to manage communication and additional advanced operations. The infected devices were badly set up and used default passwords which made them susceptible to attacks.

The Internet security company called McAfee claim they tracked around 100,000 malware each day in 2012, which was a 44% increase over 2011.

In the meantime, the number of different devices connected to the Internet is rising. Even though more than half of US Internet users were victims of different viruses or malware, computer security is well organized. However, security of smart TVs, refrigerators, smoke detectors and other connected gadgets is to this day somewhat immature.

They are usually not protected by the anti-spam and anti virus programs which are available to computer users. Not to mention that they do not receive security patches for new threats as they come. Cyber criminals can find a target-rich settings in these badly protected gadgets, which are probably much easier to infect and control than personal computers.

Most of the smart appliances are inadequately secured and users have basically no ideas on how to discover or repair infections when they happen. Maybe it is about time that smart appliances developers rise above this problem and start contemplating about security issues from the beginning or these attacks could become much more frequent as homes and appliances become smarter and get put online.




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