It appears that our connected lives are finally beginning to catch up with us after a cyber-attack managed to recruit over 100,000 household smart devices to send out vast bouts of spam emails. What made this attack particularly unique was that over a quarter of the messages never passed through any personal computers or smartphones. Instead they came from all kinds of appliances such as televisions, home entertainment systems and even a fridge.
While this all may sound rather bizarre it has in fact brought to light the reality of how vulnerable anything with computer-based technology, connected to the Internet, really is to attack. What’s more is that consumers have virtually no means of protecting these kinds of devices from attacks such as the one that occurred.
More often than not we are told that high-tech appliances will make our lives easier, save us money and run more efficiently. They do this by collecting and analysing data – data that has now proved accessible by hackers on the hunt for new ways to generate viruses. The growing number of devices that act as self-contained web servers has been called the Internet of Things (IoT).
Just as computers can be compromised into becoming platforms known as ‘botnets’, used for large-scale attacks, so these seemingly inanimate devices can also be transformed into active robots – recently given the rather sinister sci-fi-esque name of ‘thingbots’.
It has since been predicted that attacks such as the Internet of Things one will become more frequent in the future, as our love of smart devices is set to overtake the number of computers out there. At the moment we are relatively helpless to the situation, leaving manufacturers with the surreal task of improving built-in computer security for what were once harmless household goods.