A new, massive botnet is currently recruiting improperly secured Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as IP wireless cameras, Check Point warns.
Some of the technical aspects of the botnet, the security researchers say, reveal a possible connection to Mirai, which stormed the world a year ago. However, this is an entirely new threat and the campaign that is rapidly spreading worldwide is much more sophisticated.
The new threat first emerged at the end of September, but Check Point says that over one million organizations globally might have been already hit. What is yet unclear is the purpose of this massive network of ensnared devices.
To compromise devices, the malware attempts to exploit a large number of vulnerabilities commonly found in various IP camera models. Targeted vendors include GoAhead, D-Link, TP-Link, AVTECH, NETGEAR, MikroTik, Linksys, Synology and others.
Because the attempted attacks were coming from different sources and a variety of IoT devices, the researchers concluded that the compromised devices themselves were spreading the malware.
“So far we estimate over a million organizations have already been affected worldwide, including the US, Australia and everywhere in between, and the number is only increasing,” Check Point says.
The analysis of an infected device revealed that the attackers accessed the System.ini file to check for compromise. Normally, that file would contain the credentials of the user, but on the hacked device it contained a ‘Netcat’ command to open a reverse shell to the attacker’s IP instead.
Thus, the researchers concluded that the machine, a GoAhead device that was compromised using the CVE-2017-8225 vulnerability, was transmitting the infection after being infected itself.
“Upon further research, it was found that numerous devices were both being targeted and later sending out the infection. These attacks were coming from many different types of devices and many different countries, totaling approximately 60% of the corporate networks which are part of the ThreatCloud global network,” Check Point notes.
The security researchers provided a list of device types – per vendor – that are supposedly targeted by the botnet. They also suggest that the actor behind this threat might be getting ready for massive, global attacks, possibly distributed denial of service (DDoS).
With over 20 billion devices expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020, the threat of insecure IoT devices is growing bigger every day. Europol too warns of the security challenges this continuously expanding market faces.
“The Internet of Things is a wide and diverse ecosystem where interconnected devices and services collect, exchange and process data in order to adapt dynamically to a context. In simpler words, it makes our cameras, televisions, washing machines and heating systems ‘smart’ and creates new opportunities for the way we work, interact and communicate, and how devices react and adapt to us,” Europol says.
The agency also underlines the importance of properly securing these devices and of implementing adequate protections to keep IoT devices safe from cyber threats. Europol notes that the fast adoption of IoT also raised new legal, policy, and regulatory challenges that require cooperation across different sectors to tackle.
“Internet of Things is not only here to stay but expected to significantly expand as more and more households, cities and industries become connected. Insecure IoT devices are increasingly becoming tools for conducting cyber criminality. We need to act now and work together to solve the security challenges that come with the IoT and to ensure the full potential,” Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol, commented.