Fridge caught sending spam emails in botnet attack – CNET

internet of things photo
Photo by vintagedept

You probably knew that the Internet is inherently unsecure. And you probably knew that 80% of email is spam. But did you know that any appliance that is connected to the net and is running some sort of OS, can be taken over and turned into a zombie mass mailer? This is what happened to a lowly fridge connected to other 100,000 objects, many of them appliances. The news should be sobering indeed.

Special note to my COM 435 students:  What do you make of this story?

With the rise of the Internet of Things comes a lot of convenience, such as smart fridges that let you access the internet and call for service in the case of malfunction, or devices that can monitor your energy usage and send you Twitter updates.It also comes with a new problem: many of these internet-connected devices don’t have malware protection. And it’s now been documented that someone is taking advantage. Security company Proofpoint has discovered a botnet attack — that is, a cyber attack whereby the attacker hijacks devices remotely to send spam — incorporating over 100,000 devices between 23 December and 6 January, including routers, multimedia centres, televisions and at least one refrigerator.The attack sent out over 750,000 spam emails, in bursts of 100,000 emails at a time, three times a day, with no more than 10 emails sent from any one IP address, making them difficult to block. Over 25 per cent of the emails were sent from devices that weren’t conventional computers or mobile devices. It is the first documented case of common appliances being used in a cyber attack — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was the first time it occurred, and it certainly won’t be the last.

via Fridge caught sending spam emails in botnet attack – CNET.

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social integration. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Ethical Reasoning in Big Data. He also co-edited Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , both the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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