“As homes and businesses adopt more internet-connected devices, criminals have been devising new ways to hijack those devices to use as nodes in huge botnet attacks,” security firm Sophos said in its most recent threat report.
The report, produced by SophosLabs researchers, explores changes in the threat landscape over the past 12 months, uncovering trends and how they are expected to impact cybersecurity in 2019.
Sophos said that among the many trends that SophosLabs saw in 2018 is the significant growth in the volume of attacks targeting internet of things (IoT) devices.
Though many of the cases simply involve changing default passwords to prevent reinfection, there were a few standout cases such as the VPNFilter, which was first discovered as an unexpected process running on a family of home routers.
“A discovery of malware that affected a broad class of home and small business networking devices in 2018 brought home the potential impact of malware that could persist on, and in some cases, permanently destroy those devices,” Sophos said.
With illegal Android apps on the increase, 2018 has seen also an increased focus in malware being pushed to phones, tablets, and other IoT devices.
“Elsewhere, Mirai Aidra, Wifatch, and Gafgyt delivered a range of automated attacks that hijacked networked devices to use as nodes in botnets to engage in distributed denial-of-service attacks, mine cryptocurrency and infiltrate networks,” Sophos said.
The report added that criminals can likewise leverage botnets to engage in distributed denial-of-service attacks (DdoS), mine cryptocurrency, infiltrate networks for the purposes of espionage or data theft, or even create chaos by “bricking” the device, taking it permanently offline or demanding a ransom to restore it to full functionality.”
Joe Levy, CTO, Sophos, as referenced in the SophosLabs 2019 Threat Report, said that the threat landscape is undoubtedly evolving.
“Less-skilled cybercriminals are being forced out of business, the fittest among them step up their game to survive and we’ll eventually be left with fewer, but smarter and stronger, adversaries,” he was quoted as saying.