Beware of the Refrigerator: Internet of Everything New Network Security Threats


Smart technology built into everyday household gadgets and appliances introduces new network security threats.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you. In his Eyes on the Cloud; Six Predictions for 2014, published in HelpNet Security in December, our Senior Consultant Kent Landry predicted businesses and consumers will become more vulnerable to cybercrime in 2014 as the Internet of Everything (IOE) brings more virtualization and a larger number of entry points occurring through IOE trends.

But who knew it would hit so soon. Proofpoint, an Internet security firm, is reporting a global cyber-attack launched from more than 100,000 home-networking routers, everyday gadgets, televisions and at least one refrigerator equipped with “smart” technology. A REFRIGERATOR!

In the release, Proofpoint states that this may be the first proven Internet of Things (IoT)-based cyber attack involving conventional household "smart" appliances, with more than 750,000 malicious email communications distributed globally between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014.

The attack featured waves of malicious email, typically sent in bursts of 100,000, three times per day, targeting enterprises and individuals. No more than 10 emails were initiated from any single IP address, making the attack difficult to block based on location. In many cases, simple misconfiguration and the use of default passwords left the devices completely exposed on public networks.

In an earlier blog post “What’s in Store of Network Security in 2014: As If You Didn’t Have Enough to Worry About,” I listed botnets as a continued core attack technique, simply because they’re effective. Fortinet also predicts new exploits will target off-net devices to penetrate corporate resources. Add IOE bots to the list of concerns as more smart devices come on line and increase entry points, especially in a corporate environment.

The International Data Corporation in the world within the next six years. The inevitable proliferation of highly distributed spam, phishing and malicious links will demand due diligence from IT security. If you’re concerned about network security and staying ahead of the latest threats, it may be time to review your network security options including a unified threat management strategy. Look into Managed Security Services, offering Managed Firewall, Content Filtering, Anti-Virus, Intrusion Detection Services, Intrusion Prevision Service, Application Control and more.

Two years ago, I never imagined posting about trusting your thermostat, security cameras, microwave, TV, gaming console and whatnot—let alone your refrigerator. What’s next - your toothbrush? Don’t ask. In their report on the IOT breach, CNN reveals a “smart” one was introduced at the latest International Consumers Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Need I say more? It’s going to get interesting. Just a suggestion, but you might consider talking to a Windstream advisor about network security sooner rather than later.

No one needs their refrigerator under cyberattack.