Hackers Use Connected Fridge as Spambot

With the age of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) just over the horizon for mainstream tech companies, many security gurus are expressing their concern over what could become the next potential battleground between hackers and cybersecurity warriors around the globe.

Yesterday we posted an article detailing Google’s purchase of the Nest home automation system, and delved into the details about what makes this acquisition worrisome for homeowners who put security first.

Researchers at the internet security company Proofpoint first discovered the mailing bot installed in classical networking hardware from manufacturers like Cisco and Netgear, however they were surprised to find that appliances such as televisions, multimedia centers, and even a Smart Fridge were used to set up a botnet capable of mass emailing nearly 100,000 spam messages three times per day. The attacks took place over a two week period from December 23rd to January 6th, and those who discovered the attack believe

Playfully named “thingbots”, this new breed of hacked hardware could be capable of utilizing personal home networks to distribute malware or spam emails while the users aren’t home or actively using the bandwidth made available by their ISP.

David Knight of Proofpoint accentuated the need for companies like LG and Kenmore to take the issue more seriously.

“Bot-nets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse. 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.”

This attack doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise to the IT community, and several prominent researchers in the industry have already been predicting the trend for years. Because manufacturers of appliances have very little expertise when it comes to cybersecurity, hackers can easily use the networks in place to gain access to their systems and exploit them to act as slaves on their wide cast net of bots.

As of right now, there are few options that the everyday consumer has available to them when it comes to protecting themselves against these attacks, although companies are expected to step up in the coming months to provide us with viable solutions to keep the new Internet of Things as secure and attacker-free as possible.