Satori botnet rears its head, exploiting IoT vulnerabilities

According to security researchers, a new IoT botnet has quietly hijacked more than 100,000 routers, readying them for paralysing distributed denial-of-service attacks against websites.

The botnet, which some researchers have dubbed “Satori” (a name given to supernatural mind-reading monsters in Japanese folklore), has increased its activity in recent days – propagating very quickly via a zero-day remote code execution vulnerability in Huawei Home Gateway or Huawei’s Echolife Home Gateway devices, and an already documented vulnerability in Realtek routers.

The exploitation of vulnerabilities allows the botnet to infect routers even when they have been secured with strong passwords.

Through the attack, an army of hundreds of thousands of routers are thought to have been commandeered into the botnet. Some commentators have even suggested that over 280,000 IP addresses have been compromised by the attack in just 12 hours.

Like the Reaper IoT botnet before it, Satori is built on the foundations of the notorious Mirai botnet which knocked major websites offline last year, and whose source code was released onto the internet.

Here’s some sensible advice for internet users:

– Ensure that you are not using default passwords on any of your IoT devices. Change them to strong, unique passwords instead. If you think you’ll have trouble remembering them then use a good password manager to store all of your passwords securely. Changing a router’s password won’t protect you if the attack is exploiting a vulnerability, which leads us to the next piece of advice…

– Update your IoT devices with security patches as soon as they become available.

– Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) on routers unless absolutely necessary.

– Purchase IoT devices from companies with a reputation for providing secure devices.

Being 100% secure online is a tough challenge for any of us, but we can reduce the risks by following sensible practices and adopting a layered defence to protect our systems.

2 comments

  • By Mike - Reply

    Since most router manufacturers refuse to provide timely updates for a reasonable time, it’s time to boycott all routers that don’t have open source firmware.

  • By Joel - Reply

    Mike – while I agree with the principle of your comment (ie. timely and open source firmware updates), I believe it is highly unlikely to occur within the next 12-18 months.

    If those device manufacturers are already not releasing updates in a timely manner, what makes you believe that they would switch over to open source firmware and that doing so would improve the turn around time?

    Unfortunately, I genuinely believe that the majority of internet users are going to remain vulnerable to Mirai (and similar) based attacks.

    For the more advanced users, we can opt to leverage things like IPFire, IPCop, OpenWRT, Sophos UTM, etc…

    What we more advanced users can do to help this situation is educate people and help them (if possible) towards a more secure network setup. I constantly recommend the BitDefender Box to anyone that will listen. So far, 3 friends and 2 co-workers have purchased a Box.

    On the side, I have created a document with basic security practices that I hand out to friends/co-workers – each time the response is similar: “Thank you so much! This is straight forward and I feel like I can do this without having to call a technician.”

    That is the real win – when they feel capable and competent that they can secure their own setup.

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