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Attack of the Refrigerators

Dubbed as the “Internet of Things” (IoT), a network of web-connected consumer appliances has brought tremendous convenience to today’s tech savvy users. However, IoT has also opened up many opportunities for criminals who can access our personal data via devices, which are least expected to be accessed by hackers, such as the refrigerator.

What Is DDoS?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is where an online service is flooded with traffic from a range of sources, leading to it becoming unavailable. Through these attacks, cyber-criminals look to find access to important resources, such as news and banking websites. The attacks present a challenge for those who wish to keep all important online information safe and secure.

Wireless speakers, smart TVs, and the now the infamous refrigerator, all played their part in the first global IoT cyber-attack in 2014. Researchers discovered that more than 100,000 smart home devices, which were inter-connected through the IoT, were manipulated to form a malicious network for spamming victims with 750,000 phishing emails for 2 weeks.

This was referred to as the ”thingbot”, and proved an eye-opening example of how security threats continue to make their way into our ever-increasing digital world, be it our office or home. Investigation showed that hackers were able to access home-networking routers, TVs and connected multi-media centers and a refrigerator for creating a botnet. This botnet served as a platform to send phishing emails without the owner’s knowledge.

It is interesting to note that even though these security threats exist in theory, these attacks came as quite a shock to internet security experts. They were stunned at the cyber criminals’ capabilities to seize home routers, smart appliances and other components of the Internet of Things for transforming them into what we now know as thingbots.

This has also happened due to the massive growth of the use of smart and connected devices, from apparel to appliances. A large number of devices connected to IoT have been poorly protected and have no virtual way of detecting or fixing infections as they occur. Botnets are already a major security concern and now with the emergence of thingbots, the situation can become even worse.

What Happens in The Future?

The number of IoT devices is expected to explode exponentially in the next few years and so will the need to combat DDoS threats. We should always remember that IoT devices are easier to hack than PCs. Established businesses, SMBs and online businesses that are likely to succumb to these attacks in the future, must come up with ways to fight these attackers who are devising inventive ways to exploit devices other than the conventional PC’s and laptops.

As more businesses are extending their operations via the cloud, they must devise a robust mechanism to protect their data from being accessed through seemingly harmless devices. This can give birth to an entirely new industry of security companies that specialize in assisting cloud hosting providers support the availability of their services against DDoS attacks.

The number of smart or connected devices is predicted to grow to a massive 200 billion figure by 2020, both manufacturers and consumers must constantly practice security methods to guard the boundaries of their work and home.

Tips to Secure Your Smart Devices

  1. All devices connected to the IoT must be protected with a password. It is important that passwords should be regularly updated and a two-step verification process is activated wherever possible.
  2. All software should be regularly updated. Gaming consoles, Smart TVs and all devices connected to the IoT have security measures that need frequent upgradation for thwarting cyber-attacks. Every time an update is offered, make sure you run it.
  3. Some IoT devices also allow browsing. Since these devices are not designed to support protection against malware, viruses and botnets, make sure you restrict your browsing activities via these devices. While browsing through your gaming console or Smart TV, do not click on any links that offer deals which are too good to be true.
  4. IoT devices are frequently controlled through our smartphones and tablets. This makes it even more important to protect our mobile devices with passwords that are hard to decipher. Moreover, installing an anti-virus app will make sure your phone stays free from malware, spam or suspicious content.

We hope our tips above will help you avoid hacker’s attempts to attack your work and/or home devices. Garner IT Consulting is always here to answer any questions you might have. You can contact us below and submit any questions or comments. Feel free to call our offices at 850.250.3210 or drop by at 1330 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, Bay County, Florida.

Best Wishes, Randall and Julie Garner and the entire Garner IT team of professionals.

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