When refrigerators attack

When refrigerators attack

Security firm Proofpoint has uncovered a cyberattack that involved the hacking  of “smart” home appliances connected to the Internet. Hackers broke into  more than 100,000 gadgets — including TVs, multimedia centers,  routers, and at least one fridge – and used the appliances to send out  more than 750,000 malicious emails between December 23 and January 6. …

[A]s smart home devices – like Nest, the thermostat and smoke detector company Google bought for $3.2 billion this week –   continue to grow more popular, Proofpoint’s report is a sobering  reminder that anything connected to the Internet can potentially be  hacked.

“The ‘Internet of Things’ holds great promise for  enabling control of all of the gadgets that we use on a daily basis,”  said Michael Osterman, principal analyst at messaging-focused research  firm Osterman Research, wrote in Proofpoint’s report.  “It also holds  great promise for cybercriminals … to launch large and distributed  attacks.”

To launch those types of large-scale attacks, hackers  link up compromised devices to create what’s called a botnet: an army of   “zombie” devices that attack other computers through tasks like  overloading a website with traffic or, in this case, sending hundreds of   thousands of spam emails.

These attacks can be more difficult  to track as the world of Internet-connected devices expands far past  laptops and tablets.  In the attack Proofpoint detailed, no more than 10   emails were sent from any single IP address, making it tough to block based on location.

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