By Juliet Umeh

As people become more surrounded  by smart devices, cyber attackers have devised means to get at their targets by attacking their devices.

A report by a global cyber security company, Kaspersky, has disclosed that not less than 105 million attacks on Internet of Things, IoT, has happened  in the first half of 2019.

Kaspersky said after deploying more than 50 honeypots worldwide, it detected 105 million attacks on IoT devices from 276,000 unique IP addresses, within the first six months of 2019.

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According to the company, the figure is around nine times more than the number found in H1 2018, when only around 12 million attacks were spotted originating from 69,000 IP addresses.

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It said cybercriminals are capitalising on weak security of IoT products and are intensifying their attempts to create and monetise IoT botnets.

It said: “The Cyber attacks on IoT devices are booming, as even though more and more people and organisations are purchasing ‘smart’ network-connected and interactive devices, such as routers or DVR security cameras, not everybody considers them worth protecting.

“Cybercriminals, however, are seeing more financial opportunities in exploiting such gadgets. They use networks of infected smart devices to conduct DDoS attacks or as a proxy for other types of malicious actions.”

To learn more about how such attacks work and how to prevent them, Kaspersky experts set up honeypots decoy devices used to attract the attention of cybercriminals and analyse their activities.

“Based on data analysis collected from honeypots, attacks on IoT devices are usually not sophisticated, but stealth-like, as users might not even notice their devices are being exploited.

“The malware family behind 39 percent of attacks – Mirai – is capable of using exploits, meaning that these botnets can slip through old, unpatched vulnerabilities to the device and control it.

“Another technique is password brute-forcing, which is the chosen method of the second most widespread malware family in the list – Nyadrop. Nyadrop was seen in 38.57 percent of attacks and often serves as a Mirai downloader. This family has been trending as one of the most active threats for a couple of years now. The third most common botnet threatening smart devices is Gafgyt with 2.12 percent also uses brute-forcing.

“In addition, the researchers were able to locate the regions that became sources of infection most often in H1 2019. These are China, with 30 percent of all attacks taking place in this country, Brazil saw 19 percent and this is followed by Egypt 12 percent.

A year ago, in H1 2018 the situation was different, with Brazil leading with 28 percent, China being second with 14 percent and Japan following with 11 percent.

Security researcher at Kaspersky, Dan Demeter, said: “As people become more and more surrounded by smart devices, we are witnessing how IoT attacks are intensifying. Judging by the enlarged number of attacks and criminals’ persistency, we can say that IoT is a fruitful area for attackers that use even the most primitive methods, like guessing password and login combinations. This is much easier than most people think: the most common combinations by far are usually “support/support”, followed by “admin/admin”, “default/default”. It’s quite easy to change the default password, so we urge everyone to take this simple step towards securing your smart devices,” Demeter, said.

To keep your devices safe, Kaspersky recommends users

Install updates for the firmware you use as soon as possible. Once vulnerability is found, it can be fixed through patches within updates.

Always change preinstalled passwords. Use complicated passwords that include both capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols if it’s possible.

Reboot a device as soon as you think it’s acting strangely. It might help get rid of existing malware, but this doesn’t reduce the risk of getting another infection.

Keep access to IoT devices restricted by a local VPN, allowing you to access them from your “home” network, instead of publicly exposing them on the internet.

Use  threat data feeds to block network connections originating from malicious network addresses detected by security researchers. Users are also advised to make sure all devices software are up to date.


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