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.