Lately, we have been hearing an awful lot about the Internet of Things (IoT).
What this buzzword describes is a world where every device is connected to the Web and communicates with other devices, and us humans, usually via Smartphone interface.
And, to a certain extent, this is an everyday reality, even today – smart TVs, printers, thermostats, and other home appliances are connected to the Web via wireless communication and receive orders from their owners who are often miles away. And, sure enough, this trend has not been overlooked by hackers.
Since each such device now has a unique IP address, Internet connectivity and the ability to send and receive packets of information, hackers can (in theory) connect them, infect them with malware and use them to send traffic – basically anything that can be performed with a regular PC. An evidence that such schemes are being planned and implemented is growing rapidly.
Security research firm Proofpoint recently announced that they discovered that hackers broke into more than 100,000 gadgets – including TVs, multimedia centers, routers, and at least one fridge – and used the appliances to send out more than 750,000 malicious emails between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014 (I guess asking for a Smart TV for Christmas wasn’t such a good idea after all…).
So, while the (now-growing) popular belief is that such appliances can be hacked, tinkered with and turned into malicious machines attacking their human masters is not true, it is very likely that they will be used for all kinds of cyber crime, from sending SPAM, spreading malicious files or participating in DDoS attacks (these are, after all, robots).
Even more interesting are the discussions on various communication platforms regarding the possibilities presented by this trend. References to the above incident were found in Arab media and also on the Facebook page of the famous “Alkrsan” hacker forum. The latter may indicate a rising interest among Arab hackers for this method of cyber-attack.
As for the Russian-speaking Internet, the HabrHabr computer blog published a post entitled “a botnet consisting of ‘smart’ TVs, media centers, PCs and … refrigerators was discovered”.
Generally, news sites refer to this affair as an evolving new threat in the cyber world and lively discussions are being held on closed forums regarding the trend.
So, will your toaster turn against you anytime soon? Not likely. But we have every reason to believe that any device that can be hacked is a legitimate target for hackers and will be breached sooner or later, changing the “Internet of Things” into the “Internet of Vulnerabilities”.