Internet of Things gets more attractive as it grows

As more and more connected devices make their way into households, attacks against them see a sharp increase, taking advantage of their insecure state. It can be home appliances, routers, IP cameras, thermostats or printers – the nature of the system is irrelevant as long as it’s easy to compromise and fits the purpose of the botnet absorbing it.

A report from SonicWall reveals that cybercriminals were pretty busy targeting Internet of Things devices in 2017, launching no less than 10.3 million attacks. The next year they got even busier, and tripling the number of attacks against smart things to 32.7 million.

This should come as no surprise. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of the IoT devices grew by about 3 billion, so the attack pool became larger. At the same time, the notoriously insecure state of connected gadgets is an invitation for cybercriminals to compromise them.

Increased attention from hackers is also visible from a chart comparing monthly attack numbers over the two years. August was the only period that recorded the same tally both years, but only because the hackers took a break in 2018. Any “business” they lost that month, they gained back in October, when no fewer than 8 million attacks were recorded.

Once hacked, IoT systems become part of a botnet that does the crook’s bidding. It could wage denial-of-service attacks, work as a channel for transporting stolen information, or simply serve as a connection node for attacks against other devices. Depending on the capabilities of the hacked IoT gadget, it can also be used to store malware.

As per SonicWall’s report, 47% of the world’s botnets are hosted in the United States, trailed by China, with 13%, and Russia, with just 7%.

In many cases, there are no clear signs that your smart gadget is infected and has a second master. Abnormal activity is typically pegged to technical faults that can be corrected with a restart. This is also a good way to get rid of most malware on IoT systems because they don’t usually survive this action. However, resetting to factory defaults is normally the sure method to disinfect this type of device.

Image credit: geralt

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