Smart appliances, including a refrigerator, used in an IoT-based spam attack

A report by Proofpoint Inc., a security-as-a-service provider, has revealed a spam attack that involved so-called Internet of Things, everyday devices that are Internet aware.

You knew it wasn’t going to be long before all those “smart” appliances became tools in the hands of hackers.

The spam attack involved simple everyday smart devices, from home-networking routers to at least one refrigerator. This is the first large-scale reported case, but you know for a certain that it won’t be the last.

According to the report:

The global attack campaign involved more than 750,000 malicious email communications coming from more than 100,000 everyday consumer gadgets such as home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator that had been compromised and used as a platform to launch attacks.


The attack that Proofpoint observed and profiled occurred between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014, and featured waves of malicious email, typically sent in bursts of 100,000, three times per day, targeting Enterprises and individuals worldwide. More than 25 percent of the volume was sent by things that were not conventional laptops, desktop computers or mobile devices; instead, the emails were sent by everyday consumer gadgets such as compromised home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator. No more than 10 emails were initiated from any single IP address, making the attack difficult to block based on location – and in many cases, the devices had not been subject to a sophisticated compromise; instead, misconfiguration and the use of default passwords left the devices completely exposed on public networks, available for takeover and use.

You may read the complete report here.

Internet of Things spam attack

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