Can you remember when the designs of what the future would look like all included refrigerators with screens on them and robots which would vacuum your carpet while you were at work? In fact, you only need to browse through the range of super-thin laptops at the Groupon Coupons page for Microsoft to see how far technology has come!
Well, we hate to break it to you, but that future is now!
The movement is called the Internet of Things, and it refers to a wide range of traditionally dub appliances which have been upgraded to become smart appliances.
However, as convenient as these gadgets are, they can also pose quite a security risk. Keep reading to find out more about an IoT attack and how you can help prevent them from happening.
How Does It All Work?
The best place to start is with a basic explanation of how a website works.
When a website is created, its information is handed to a web hosting company. This company is responsible for ensuring that the website is not only accessible but also responds quickly.
How quickly a website can respond depends on a few factors, but one of the main contributors is how many other people are also trying to access the site. If you have ever visited a news reporting website during a breaking story only to find the website is slow or won’t load, then the chances are there are more people attempting to view it than the web hosting company can handle.
Let’s Move on to Your IoT Devices
With the basic understanding out of the way, let’s move on to the devices themselves. These include vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, baby monitors, and even security cameras. These are often devices which, once installed, rarely have their settings updated or monitored.
It is this behavior which can lead to problems.
Inside each of these devices is a basic operating system, similar to the one in your phone and your computer. Only, the operating system in these devices has limited jobs, such as running your basic device and connecting to the internet.
And, just like all operating systems, the ones inside these devices have vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities which, when exploited, can allow a hacker to gain access to the function of your device.
Once a hacker is able to find a vulnerability in one product, however, they are able to access hundreds of thousands of those products which are in people’s houses unprotected. However, they don’t want to brew your coffee or listen to your baby sleep, it’s the device’s internet capability which they are after to undertake a DDoS attack.
A DDoS attack is a distributed denial of service attack. When this happens, the hacker in the example above will activate their network of controlled IoT devices and command them to each request access to a certain website.
However, unlike regular human visits where you realize the page isn’t working and you find another, these devices are commanded to continuously request a certain page until it becomes slow and eventually crashes.
While there isn’t much you can do to change the behavior of a hacker, these is much you can do to prevent your devices from being used as their tools.
Spend some time to check the security settings of all your internet connected devices, and always ensure that you stay up-to-date with software and firmware updates and security patches.