IoT attacks have increased by 200% in two years

Audio-visual and home automation devices are most at risk, says Zscaler report

Graphic representation of IoT devices in businesses

Attacks on internet of things (IoT) devices have ramped up 700% in two years, according to a study from security company Zscaler. 

In its IoT in the Enterprise: Empty Office Edition report published today, the company revealed the characteristics of IoT devices that it fingerprinted across its network of protected assets. 

During the two-week study period last December, the company also analyzed traffic coming from these machines to assess how much of it was malicious and what it did. 

Zscaler blocked roughly 300,000 malware-related IoT transactions in those two weeks. This was a seven-fold increase in the malicious traffic it found during the 2019 study. 

The company also found 900 unique payload deliveries to 18,000 unique hosts. Almost all those unique payloads (97%) belonged to the Gafgyt (63.1%) and Mirai (34.1%) botnets. However, the frequency of attacks was inverted; Mirai payloads accounted for 76% of attacks while Gafgyt payloads made up just 5% of attacks. 

CCTVs and digital video recorders were among the units most likely to phone home to a botnet's command and control server. The report found devices in this category from over 70 vendors infected by malware. Routers were also commonly infected in the study. 

Related Resource

X-Force Threat Intelligence Index

Top security threats and recommendations for resilience

Transparent cube against a black background - whitepaper from IBMDownload now

The report called out devices from Linksys and D-Link, the latter of which settled with the FTC in 2019 for allegedly failing to include adequate security measures in its IoT products

Even today, most IoT devices transmit data in the clear, with only 24% using encryption. While still unacceptably high, it's up from the 17% in the company's 2020 report. That’s also a threefold improvement on the 2019 study, which found only 8.5% of devices transmitting data in the clear. 

Encryption was unevenly distributed across verticals, with devices in the health care sector using SSL roughly half the time. Conversely, only 2.7% of enterprise devices used SSL to encrypt communications. 

Entertainment and home automation devices, including virtual assistants, represented the biggest attack risk, according to Zscaler. The report said that this risk stems from their relatively infrequent encryption use and tendency to phone home to suspicious destinations. It's also because there are so many of these devices. Of the 553 device types found, almost one in three found were set-top boxes. One in five were smart TVs. 

Featured Resources

B2B under quarantine

Key B2C e-commerce features B2B need to adopt to survive

Download now

The top three IT pains of the new reality and how to solve them

Driving more resiliency with unified operations and service management

Download now

The five essentials from your endpoint security partner

Empower your MSP business to operate efficiently

Download now

How fashion retailers are redesigning their digital future

Fashion retail guide

Download now

Recommended

How to use machine learning and AI in cyber security
Security

How to use machine learning and AI in cyber security

30 Jul 2021
Chipotle’s marketing email hacked to send phishing emails
phishing

Chipotle’s marketing email hacked to send phishing emails

29 Jul 2021
The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers
Security

The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers

29 Jul 2021
Colonial Pipeline hack spurred copycat attacks on other oil and gas companies
hacking

Colonial Pipeline hack spurred copycat attacks on other oil and gas companies

29 Jul 2021

Most Popular

The benefits of workload optimisation
Sponsored

The benefits of workload optimisation

16 Jul 2021
RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility
high-performance computing (HPC)

RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility

28 Jul 2021
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review: A rose-tinted experience
Mobile Phones

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review: A rose-tinted experience

14 Jul 2021