Rise of ‘IOT zom­bies’

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

Cy­ber­at­tacks on IoT de­vices are be­com­ing more in­tel­li­gent and so­phis­ti­cated than ever. These at­tacks no longer re­main at the sim­ple level of hack­ing IoT de­vices but have led to the emer­gence of ma­li­cious IoT viruses that par­a­lyze en­tire net­works and turn them into “zom­bie PCs.”

Ta­los, a threat in­tel­li­gence team at Cisco, re­cently said it con­firmed a ma­li­cious code named VPN (Vir­tual Pri­vate Net­work) Fil­ters had in­fected more than 500,000 routers and NAS (Net­work At­tached Stor­age) de­vices in 54 coun­tries. Ta­los also dis­closed 16 types of home routers sold by Linksys, Mi­crotik and Net­gear had been in­fected. F5, another de­vice maker, said tel­net’s brute force at­tacks on IoT de­vices in­creased 249 per­cent in 2017 com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

IoT zom­bies have sent out shock­waves by at­tack­ing many net­works si­mul­ta­ne­ously, caus­ing se­vere func­tional prob­lems. Ex­perts warn against so­cial un­rest, as hack­ers could par­a­lyze spe­cific sites and neu­tral­ize net­works us­ing in­fected zom­bie de­vices.

These new at­tacks are on another level com­pared to old ones, which re­mained con­tent with hack­ing the IoT to cause mal­func­tions or cut off spe­cific func­tions.

The cy­ber­se­cu­rity in­dus­try has long cau­tioned against the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of IoT cy­ber­at­tacks. Most de­vice makers are even fail­ing to iden­tify their weak­nesses con­cern­ing IoT se­cu­rity. Nor has the govern­ment done more than work out guide­lines and ad­vis­ing the in­dus­try to fol­low them.

Only thor­ough prepa­ra­tions can pre­vent a mas­sive hack­ing dis­as­ter. Busi­nesses should raise se­cu­rity aware­ness of em­ploy­ees and go all out to se­cure re­lated tech­nol­ogy. Govern­ment of­fi­cials, too, ought to hurry to set up a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy on IoT se­cu­rity. In this world of net­works, one can never overem­pha­size the im­por­tance of cy­ber­se­cu­rity.

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