fridge was among more than 100,000 devices hacked by cyber criminals to
send out spam emails - in what may be the first proven cyberattack on
household "smart" appliances, researchers say.
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 centres, televisions and
at least one refrigerator that had been compromised and used as a
platform to launch attacks, researchers said.
can be unknowingly compromised to form robot-like "botnets" that can be
used to launch large-scale cyberattacks.
California-based security group, Proofpoint, found that cyber criminals
have begun to commandeer home routers, smart appliances and other
components of the Internet of Things(IoT) and transform them into
"thingbots" to carry out the same type of malicious activity.
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 centres, televisions and at least one refrigerator.
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.
misconfiguration and the use of default passwords left the devices
completely exposed on public networks, available for takeover and use.
are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may
make the situation much worse," said 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," Knight said.
'Internet of Things' 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.