Televisions, Refrigerators (Thinkbots) sent more than 750,000 Phishing and SPAM emails – Proofpoint

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Pic : CNET

Pic : CNET

Can you imagine your home television becoming a  zombie ?  As scary as it sounds , the reality is in front of us.  Most of the current day televisions, refrigerators, surveillance devices  and temperature control devices( Internet of Things- IoT)  are all part of a home network, which in turn connects to the internet. None of these devices have any form of security and they have some form of embedded OS or  respond to networking protocols with small amount of memory.

As more and more computer chips are connected to the network for ease of our daily life, more devices are vulnerable to some form of attacks. A similar scenario was discovered recently where more than 750,000 Phishing and SPAM Email attacks were launched from “Thingbots” including televisions, refrigerators, routers and various house hold networked devices.

“The recent attack that was identified  and profiled occurred between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014, and featured waves of malicious email, typically sent in bursts of 100,000, three times per day, targeting Enterprises and individuals worldwide.” as observed by Proofpoint

“More than 25 percent of the volume was sent by things that were not conventional laptops, desktop computers or mobile devices; instead, the emails were sent by everyday consumer gadgets such as compromised home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator. No more than 10 emails were initiated from any single IP address, making the attack difficult to block based on location — and in many cases, the devices had not been subject to a sophisticated compromise; instead, mis-configuration and the use of default passwords left the devices completely exposed on public networks, available for takeover and use. ” 

Bot-nets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse,” said David Knight, General Manager of Proofpoint’s Information Security division.

“Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur. Enterprises may find distributed attacks increasing as more and more of these devices come on-line and attackers find additional ways to exploit them.

The ‘Internet of Things’ holds great promise for enabling control of all of the gadgets that we use on a daily basis. It also holds great promise for cyber-criminals who can use our homes’ routers, televisions, refrigerators and other Internet-connected devices to launch large and distributed attacks,” said Michael Osterman, Principal Analyst at Osterman Research.

He also added that “Internet-enabled devices represent an enormous threat because they are easy to penetrate, consumers have little incentive to make them more secure, the rapidly growing number of devices can send malicious content almost undetected, few vendors are taking steps to protect against this threat, and the existing security model simply won’t work to solve the problem.




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