There was a dramatic rise in malware samples targeting Internet of Things devices, according to a new report by Kaspersky Lab.
In fact, the security firm found three times as many malware samples in the first half of 2018 as in all of 2017. Last year, there were ten times more malware samples targeting Internet of Things devices than in 2016. “That doesn’t bode well for the years ahead,” the researchers observed.
Kaspersky Lab set up honeypots to catch cybercriminals in the act. What it found was that that one of the most popular attack and infection vector was cracking Telnet passwords.
Surprisingly, Brazil was the top country from which Telnet password attacks originated. Perennial favorite Russia only finished fourth, behind China and Japan. Better luck next time, Vlad.
Once the criminals crack the Telnet password, their favorite malware to download is Mirai.
For the first six months of 2018, the Telnet honeypot registered more than 12 million attacks from 86,560 unique IP addresses. Malware was downloaded from 27,693 unique IP addresses.
Reaper Botnet Infects Internet of Things
An alternative vector to Telnet password cracking is the Reaper botnet. Its assets at end-2017 numbered about two million Internet of Things devices. Instead of targeting Telnet passwords, this botnet attacks known software vulnerabilities.
With the Reaper botnet, infections occur faster. And it is much harder to patch a software vulnerability than change a password.
“Although this method is more difficult to implement, it found favor with many virus writers,” the researchers wrote.
Infected devices that attacked Kaspersky’s honeypots included MikroTik, TP-Link, SonicWall, AV tech, Vigor, Ubiquiti, D-Link, Cisco, AirTies, Cyberroam, HikVision, ZTE, and Miele.
“Malware for smart devices is increasing not only in quantity, but also quality. More and more exploits are being weaponized by cybercriminals, and infected devices are used to steal personal data and mine cryptocurrencies, on top of traditional DDoS attacks,” the researchers concluded.