IoT devices still major target for cyberattacks

During the first half of 2019, cybercriminals increased the intensity of attacks related to IoT and SMB according to a new F-Secure report.

The company report "Attack Landscape H1 2019" highlighted the threat of unsafe IoT devices can pose for businesses and consumers, as well as the continuing popularity of Eternal Blue and similar exploits two years after the launch of the ransomware WannaCry in the world.

F-Secure uses decoy servers called honeypots to attract attackers to gather information about their activities and this year their honeypots measured a twelve-fold increase in attacks related to IoT and SMB compared to the same period a year ago . This increase was driven by traffic directed to the Telnet and UPnP protocols, which are used by IoT devices, as well as to the SMB protocol, which is used by the Eterna family of exploits to spread ransomware and banking Trojans.

Telnet, UPnP and SMB Traffic

Most of the traffic during the first half of 2019 was directed by Telnet with more than 760 million recorded attack events or about 26 percent of the traffic. UPnP was the next most frequent with attacks of 611 million followed by SSH, which is also used to attack IoT devices, with attacks of 456 million.

IoT devices that have been infected with malware such as Mirai are probably sources of this traffic, since Mirai was the most common malware family observed by F-Secure honeypots. Mirai targets and infects routers, security cameras and other IoT devices that use factory default credentials.

F-Secure also discovered that traffic to the SMB 445 port represented 556 million attacks. The high level of SMB traffic indicates that the eternal family of exploits, which were first used in the 2017 WannaCry ransomware outbreak, are still being used by cybercriminals seeking to target millions of machines that have not yet been repaired.

Principal investigator in F-Insurance, Jarno Niemal provided more information on the findings of the report, saying:

“Three years after Mirai's appearance, and two years after WannaCry, it shows that we have not yet resolved the leveraged problems in those outbreaks. The insecurity of IoT, for example, is only getting deeper, with more and more devices that arise all the time and then are co-opted into botnets. And the activity in SMB indicates that there are still too many machines out there that remain unpatched. ”

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