Since January 1st of 2018, a barrage of cyberattacks and data breaches have hit almost every industry, targeting businesses large and small, many of which are now from IoT devices. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be approximately 75 billion connected devices around the world. With more IoT devices –from wearables and pacemakers to thermometers and smart plugs–on the market and in the home, cybercriminals are keen to leverage them in attacks. This heightened interest is due to the vulnerabilities in many IoT devices, not to mention their ability to connect to each other, which can form an IoT botnet.
In a botnet scenario, a network of internet-connected devices is infected with malware and controlled without the users’ knowledge, in order to launch ransomware and DDoS attacks (distributed denial-of-service). Once unleashed, the consequences of botnet attacks can be devastating. This possible reality sounds like the plot of a science fiction movie, one which we hypothesized in our 2018 Threats Prediction Report. As we head into this year’s final months, we take a look at how this year’s threats compared to our predictions for you, the consumer.
At the end of 2017, we predicted that the convenience and ease of a connected home could lead to a decrease in privacy. Our devices already transmit significant data, with or without the knowledge of the consumer, back to the corporations the devices are made. This unprecedented access to consumer data is what is driving cybercriminals to become more familiar with IoT botnet attacks. Just in 2018 alone, we’ve seen smart TVs, virtual assistants, and even smart plugs display detrimental security flaws that could be exploited by bad actors. Some IoT devices were used to facilitate botnet attacks, like an IoT thermometer and home Wi-Fi routers. In 2017, these security concerns were simply predictions- but now they are very much a reality. And while the window to get ahead of these attacks is closing, consumers need to be prepared in case your IoT devices go haywire.
Be the difference in your home when it comes to security and IoT devices. Protect both you and your family from these threats with these tips:
- When buying an IoT device, make security a priority. Before your next IoT purchase, do your research. Prioritize purchasing devices that have been on the market for a while, have a name brand, or have a lot of online reviews. If you follow this protocol, the chances are that the device’s security standards will be higher, due to being vetted by the masses.
- Change default device passwords. As soon as you bring a new device into your home, change the password to something difficult to guess. Cybercriminals often know the default settings and can use them to access your devices. If the device has advanced security options, use them.
- Keep your software up-to-date. To protect against potential vulnerabilities, manufacturers often release software updates. Set your device to auto-update, if possible, so you always have the latest software.
- Use a comprehensive security program. It’s important to think about security holistically. Not all IoT devices are restricted to the home; many are mobile (such as smart watches). If you’re out and about, you may need to connect to an unsecured network – say an airport with public Wi-Fi. Your kids may have devices. The scenarios may be different, but the risk is the same. Protect your network of connected devices no matter where you are and consider a suite of security products to protect what matters.