Cyber criminals hack Internet of Things and smart devices, research shows

Proofpoint security researchers claim internet-enabled household appliances are already being programmed to send out spam emails by hackers.

Researchers have uncovered evidence that hackers have launched cyber attacks on household smart devices.

IT security firm Proofpoint said smart devices, such as internet-enabled fridges and smart TVs, have been used to send out 750,000 spam emails between 23 December and 6 January.

The firm said as the number of connected devices increases, the proof of an "Internet of Things"-based attack taking place "has significant security implications for device owners and Enterprise targets."

Proofpoint said criminal gangs have begun to hijack home routers, smart appliances and other components of the Internet of Things and transform them into "thingbots" to carry out similar malicious activity to botnets.

It said these devices give criminals a "target-rich environment" and poorly protected internet-connected devices may be more attractive and easier to infect than traditional PCs, laptops, and tablets.

"Botnets are already a major security concern, and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse," said Proofpoint security manager Dave Knight.

"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 online and attackers find additional ways to exploit them," he said.

Michael Osterman, principal analyst at Osterman Research, said this attack heralded a new chapter in cyber security.

"The Internet of Things holds great promise for enabling control of all the gadgets that we use on a daily basis," he said.

"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."

Featured Resources

Security analytics for your multi-cloud deployments

IBM Security QRadar SIEM solution brief

Download now

Five reasons to move to the cloud

Join the enterprises moving their workloads to the cloud

Download now

Architecting hybrid IT and edge for digital advantage

Why business leaders should consider a hybrid IT strategy

Download now

Six reasons to accelerate remote asset monitoring with AI

How to optimise resources, increase productivity, and grow profit margins with AI

Download now

Recommended

Lazarus APT hacking group is targeting the defense industry
Security

Lazarus APT hacking group is targeting the defense industry

26 Feb 2021
FedEx and DHL phishing emails target Microsoft users
phishing

FedEx and DHL phishing emails target Microsoft users

24 Feb 2021
Hackers are using Google Alerts to help spread malware
hacking

Hackers are using Google Alerts to help spread malware

22 Feb 2021
North Korea expected to increase cyber attacks due to COVID struggles
hacking

North Korea expected to increase cyber attacks due to COVID struggles

22 Feb 2021

Most Popular

How to build a CMS with React and Google Sheets
content management system (CMS)

How to build a CMS with React and Google Sheets

24 Feb 2021
Npower shuts down app after hackers steal user data
hacking

Npower shuts down app after hackers steal user data

25 Feb 2021
New monitors for an agile new normal
Sponsored

New monitors for an agile new normal

19 Feb 2021