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What Exactly Is an IoT Based Attack and How You Can Prevent Them

The term Internet of Things is a broad name given to small devices around your home which connect to the internet. The majority of these devices are ones which you rarely think about, such as your alarm system, thermostat control unit, security cameras, and even connected baby monitors. As you can likely tell, these are all traditionally set-and-forget devices, where you open the box, turn them on, and then never think about them again.

 

Unfortunately, this is the exact behavior which allows for an IoT based attack.

 

Let’s Look Into It Further

 

Each and every one of the smart devices in your home which connects to the internet uses an operating system. Similar to the one in your computer or in your phone, the one inside these devices is much more basic and is only needed to support the functions of the device. However, they all share one prominent function in that they can all connect to the internet.

 

Just like all operating systems, the ones inside these devices have flaws which a hacker preys on. Once exploited, these flaws allow a hacker to take over a range of devices providing them with a range of controls.

 

Once an exploit has been found, it is noted and the hacker continues to look for more exploits in additional devices until they have amassed quite a large number of home appliances which they can control.

 

All of this happens without you knowing anything is happening.

 

What’s the Zombie Army For?

Armed with this list of zombie machines, a hacker is able to turn their attention to a website or a service which holds views misaligned to their own, or a company which a hacker has a grudge against.

 

For example, a hacker could take active control of these devices, including the ones in your home, and command that they each attempt to gain access to a set website. This command is executed over and over again from millions of small electronic devices around the world until the website in question falls over and crashes.

 

However, it doesn’t stop there.

 

You see, when a website crashes under regular circumstances, the owners are able to bring it back up quickly because, once it’s crashed, people stop visiting the site and look for alternatives. However, with an IoT attack, there is no reprieve, leaving web hosting providers with quite the challenge on their hands, depending on the level of sophistication involved in the attack.

 

How Can You Prevent It?

Now comes the part where you can help. While you can’t track down hackers you can take away their tools. By checking and adjusting the security setting in each of your connected devices along with ensuring that you install regular software updates, you can take large steps towards removing a hacker’s access to your device and effectively reduce the number of machines able to be controlled globally.

 

Consider making it a rule that each time that you indulge in some retailer therapy, say at the Groupon Coupons page for Hot Topic, also take the opportunity to give your devices a quick software update to keep everything as secure as possible.

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