Evidence of Cyber Attack Against Refrigerators and Other Household Appliances

It was only a matter of time: Security experts have been warning us about the rapid growth of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) for the last two years, pointing out that there’s no security systems in place to protect ordinary people from getting their home devices hacked and used as bot-nets. For the first time in history we now have proof of serious cyber attacks against home devices with an online connection – including TVs and refrigerators.

“The global attack campaign involved more than 750.000 malicious email communications coming from more than 100.000 everyday consumer gadgets such as home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator.”


smart apps

“The attack that Proofpoint observed and profiled occurred between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014, and featured waves of malicious email, typically sent in bursts of 100,000, three times per day, targeting Enterprises and individuals worldwide. More than 25 percent of the volume was sent by things that were not conventional laptops, desktop computers or mobile devices; instead, the emails were sent by everyday consumer gadgets such as compromised home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator,” Proofpoint writes in a new report.

iotAccording to the security company, no more than 10 emails were initiated from any single IP address, making the attack difficult to block based on location — and in many cases, the devices had not been subject to a sophisticated compromise; instead, misconfiguration and the use of default passwords left the devices completely exposed on public networks, available for takeover and use.

“Bot-nets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse,” says David Knight, General Manager of Proofpoint’s Information Security division.

“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 on-line and attackers find additional ways to exploit them.”

While IT experts have long predicted security risks associated with the rapidly proliferating Internet of Things (IoT), this is the first time the industry has reported actual proof of such a cyber attack involving common appliances — but it likely will not be the last example of an IoT attack. IoT includes every device that is connected to the internet — from home automation products including smart thermostats, security cameras, refrigerators, microwaves, home entertainment devices like TVs, gaming consoles to smart retail shelves that know when they need replenishing and industrial machinery — and the number of IoT devices is growing enormously.

traineesworkIDC predicts that more than 200 billion things will be connected via the Internet by 2020.

“The ‘Internet of Things’ holds great promise for enabling control of all of the gadgets that we use on a daily basis. It also holds great promise for cybercriminals who can use our homes’ routers, televisions, refrigerators and other Internet-connected devices to launch large and distributed attacks,” says Michael Osterman, principal analyst at Osterman Research.

“Internet-enabled devices represent an enormous threat because they are easy to penetrate, consumers have little incentive to make them more secure, the rapidly growing number of devices can send malicious content almost undetected, few vendors are taking steps to protect against this threat, and the existing security model simply won’t work to solve the problem.”

FULL POST @ Proofpoint.com

Here’s the report:



Filed under Laws and Regulations, Technology

3 responses to “Evidence of Cyber Attack Against Refrigerators and Other Household Appliances

  1. Pingback: Yahoo Hacked Again: “We Are Under Attack” | EconoTwist's

  2. Pingback: Hvem hacket hakkebiffen!? | INNHOLDSPESIALISTEN

  3. Reblogged this on Rational Arrogance and commented:

    Maybe the salesperson will not laugh this time when I ask once again for antivirus protection for my fridge….