Graham Cluley and KrebsonSecurity, this botnet’s “Hit List” includes numerous default username and password combinations used by manufacturers – and some companies use the same default settings across their entire product lineup.
The botnet then corrupts the normal request-response operation of the internet with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, like the one orchestrated by Mirai. Under normal conditions, as the number of requests increase, operations slow down. Mirai directs a huge number of online devices to make nonstop requests until the target site collapses under the strain.
After enslaving thousands, perhaps millions, of smart home devices into its botnet, Mirai unleashed the largest DDoS attack yet seen in the history of the internet. The October 2016 attack against Dyn disrupted internet access across much of the US. If attacks of this nature become more common, one can only ponder on the potential future implications for internet service providers (ISPs) and their customers – will there be penalties for the fallout that organizations endure as a result of problems caused by insecure devices?
The first paradox from the Dyn attack is that it was largely caused by small unsecured devices such as IoT cameras. The second paradox is that it is almost impossible to know if your devices are secure or have been forced into a botnet army. At the moment, the only way to find out is to search online for any issues connected to that particular model or manufacturer. For white-labeled devices – made by one manufacturer, but sold under a variety of brand names – the true identity can be buried deep under the cover.
A comprehensive approach to mitigate the problem of the vulnerable smart home is to secure the network. This is in contrast to a single-minded focus on securing individual IoT devices. It’s not to say that device security shouldn’t continue to be a priority, but security at the gateway can be particularly effective when the devices are tricky to secure. Gateway level security requires no additional hardware or installation; a software application is installed on routers. The application is easily delivered via those routers or the ISPs, is managed via a simple user interface and automatically secures the connected devices in the home. Router manufacturers and ISPs that safeguard their customers’ connected devices in this way ease the pressure on end users, bolster their own security offering and gain a competitive advantage in the race to stay ahead in the fight against cybercrime.
Read our whitepaper on how you can help secure the connected home