Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Friend or foe?

We all have listened the phrase "Keep your friends close to you, but keep your foes even closer" at least once. While it is true that nobody know who we must give the credit for this quote (some say Sun Tzu, others Maquiavelo...), but what we really know is who made this quote famous in the popular culture. We are talking about Mr Michael Corleone, the main character on the mythic "The Godfather 2" movie. 
But what can we do when we can´t distinguish among friends or foes when we are talking about the Internet of Things (IoT)? Nobody can doubt that it has made us to improve many aspects of our live, but we can´t deny either that it is one of the main access doors for cybercriminals. 

In the IoT current ecosystem, cyberattacks  have become more diverse and sophisticated, with the cybercriminals taking control of our homes routers to launch attacks against our connected devices. A research performed by Trend Micro shows that 1.8 million cyberattacks have been directed through the home routers network  in the first half of the year.  An 8% of them were outbound attacks send by hackers to access home devices to execute malware and to obtain confidential information like passwords or content transmitted through the affected devices. 

Richard Ku, vice president and IoT and market development commercial explains after verifying the results that "As the value of infecting connected devices keeps growing, these attacks would become more and more frequent, specially affecting the countries included in this report. Our researchers shows how the use of connected devices for Bitcoins mining has doubled in a few months. This use for bad proposes and the significant rise of the industry creates a market that can be exploited by cybercriminals". 

But which are the most affected countries Ku talks about? Well, USA, China and United Kingdom have the "honor" of being in the top three of nations affected by intelligent devices conducted attacks. But Trend Micro Research shows a list with 10 countries:

·         USA 28%
·         China: 7%
·         United Kingdom: 7%
·         Hong Kong: 5%
·         Canada: 5%
·         Australia: 4%
·         Sweden: 4%
·         Netherlands: 4%
·         Taiwan: 3%
·         Russia: 3%

These countries suffer the 70% of all the worldwide registered incidents, that´s why Micro Trend exposes that attacks through home devices is a global scale menace. Regarding the classification of these kind of attacks, we detected two main kinds: incoming and outgoing attacks.  PCs, laptops and webcams are the main target of the incoming attacks, while DNS amplification attacks are more common when talking about outgoing attacks. Almost an 80% of teh attack against router are outgoing ones. 

Trend Micro also explains that the nucleus of incident with IoT devices controlled by cybercriminals for Bitcoins mining have doubled since February of this year. Hence, we can predict that as the Bitcoins and Ethereum value rises, this kind of attacks will grow even more. 

At last, according to the research, there are three menaces for intelligent home devices: 
  • Long term exposition to unprotected networks: Most of the intelligent devices connected to external networks by a router and many of the consumers tend not to pay enough attention to their protection, which allows hackers to exploit vulnerabilities or take control over the connected devices. Therefore this exposes all the family members to serious personal information theft risks.    
  • Not changing default passwords: The devices used at intelligent homes such as routers and webcams use to share the same kind of systems, so they can be properly managed. If the users leave their default passwords, they are giving the cybercriminals an easy access to these devices.  
  • A small replacement rate among domestic devices plus infrequent firmware/software updates: Most of the connected devices, such as PCs and Smart TVs have a long lifecycle and are not frequently replaced. The problem is that the software of this devices is rarely updated and overlooking this firmware and software updates contributes to the increase of cybermenaces. 
The meaning of the quote "Keep your friends close to you, but keep your foes even closer" resides in the fact that the closer you are to your adversaries, the most information you can get about them in order to get ready for future attacks. In the cyberworld it´s extremely easy to be close to our enemies, because we are all connected and we don´t know just how this is positive. However, we agree about the need of being informed about the last quibblings used by cybercriminals, because it´s the best way for defending against them.  

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