Infected vending machines and light bulbs teach establishment a lesson.
A PLACE WHERE late stage teenagers go to drink and make arses of themselves has fallen victim to a denial of service (DDoS) attack of, essentially, it’s own making.
Yeah, we are talking about a university. We do not know what university it is, but Verizon’s breach report for 2016 tells us that the mysterious educational establishment, probably in the US, was taken to its knees by a DDoS attack that was brought about by its own bloody Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
It’s kinda like that Mirai thing, but on a much smaller, and more personally embarrassingly scale. We like to imagine that a connected toaster and a connected fridge had a fallout and that everything when bits up.
According to Bleeping Computer, which has had a cheeky look at the Verizon report, it was a bit more pedestrian than that.
“The DDoS attack was caused by an unnamed IoT malware strain that connected to the university’s smart devices, changed their default password, and then launched brute-force attacks to guess the admin credentials of nearby devices,” Verizon says as it explained that something fishy went down.
“Hacked devices would start an abnormally high level of DNS lookups that flooded the university’s DNS server, which in turn resulted in the server dropping many DNS requests, including legitimate student traffic. The university’s IT team said that many of these rogue DNS requests were related to seafood-related domains.”
The university has placed all IoT devices, such as light bulbs and vending machines, on its separate subnet, or perhaps in a bin. The security industry reckons that this is a signal of the kind of unprotected troubles to come. Naturally.
“On the surface this appears to be more of a prank than a sophisticated denial of service attack. However, proving that largescale IoT takeovers are possible should be a wakeup call to those who manage networks rife with unsecure IoT devices,” said Stephen Gates, chief research intelligence analyst at NSFOCUS by way of introduction.
“Municipal, Industrial, Commercial, and now Educational infrastructures are becoming more and more vulnerable, because organisations often carelessly deploy IoT without understanding the ramifications of weak IoT security.
“In this case the damage appears to be limited, and only inconvenienced users on a campus network. Do the same to a transportation system, a chemical plant, a hospital complex, an E911 system, or an ISP, and the damage could be much, much greater.”