IoT devices becoming accessories in malware attacks

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Internet of Things devices are meant for making lives of humans easier; however, there is a rather negative aspect of these devices with Symantec finding that IoT devices are increasingly being used to create botnets and spread malware.

This is an aspect of IoT that is being repeatedly highlighted by security experts ever since connected devices started to surface. security experts at Symantec’s Security Response team discovered that cybercriminals are hijacking home networks and everyday consumer connected devices to help carry out Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on more profitable targets, usually large companies.

DDoS attacks are one of the oldest yet most effective forms of attacks in the cyber space and while these attacks do not cause loss or theft of data, they render the target network completely inaccessible for hours. DDoS attack is carried out by overwhelming the target network with traffic from multiple sources. Security experts have found increased instances of IoT devices as being part of DDoS botnets with half of all IoT attacks originating from China and the US, based on the location of IP addresses to launch malware attacks. High numbers of attacks are also emanating from Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam.

According to Symantec experts, they have found evidence of attacks originating from a range of IoT devices such as routers, modems, CCTV systems and even industrial control systems.

IoT devices are purpose oriented with communications stack sitting on top of the core system. Given that these devices do not have higher computing power, there is resource constraints on these system and hence securing the computing core of these devices is rather a difficult problem. Attackers have started developing hacks to target the communication stack as well as core of these IoT devices through attacks ranging from brute force to highly advanced device specific hacks. Once the device is under their control, attackers program the IoT devices to perform their malicious acts including DDoS attacks.

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