The internet of things is largely about embedding computing into the hardware. The security of these embedded systems is still pretty vulnerable. We have seen hackers taken over control of a smart connected home, and using Shodan you can try a little hacking yourself. Every connected piece of hardware can potentially become a spambot.
Security firm Proofpoint found that more than 100,000 smart devices–including a connected refrigerator–were used to send out more than 750,000 malicious emails between Dec. 23, 2013 and Jan. 6, 2014. Other embedded systems that got hacked gadgets included routers, media servers and televisions.
Of course we humans are part of the problem. Hackers were able to access most of the gadgets because default passwords left the electronics devices exposed on public networks.
From the press release:
“Bot-nets 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. Enterprises may find distributed attacks increasing as more and more of these devices come on-line and attackers find additional ways to exploit them.”
Just as personal computers can be compromised to form “botnets”, the “thingbots” could become an even bigger part of this problem carrying out the same type of malicious activity.