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The Botnet of Things

The relentless push to add connectivity to home gadgets is creating dangerous side effects that figure to get even worse.

A Botnet is a network of internet-enabled devices which distributes by infecting interconnected devices one after the other by the use of various bots. They are used in a subtle manner such that the users never notice that their resources are being misused, unlike normal malware or Trojans which are easily detectable through security software. These are then used mainly to evade spam filters, speed up password cracking attempts, mine Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, and to execute DDoS attacks by the use of botnet armies.

Botnets became mainstream over a decade ago but the increasing overabundance of extremely unsecured network devices and gadgets due to the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) services paves the way for the Thingbots - which work on the same concept as normal bots but on a much larger scale by infecting common household and office gadgets, which in turn infect not only other gadgets but also the base servers which they are connected to.

Due to a distinct lack of security features and unavailability of ways for their firmware to get patched against such threats after being distributed, hackers can easily take over these devices in comparison to traditional networks.

Last October, the Mirai botnet made up of more than 1,00,000 IoT devices took down the service provider Dyn, which ultimately resulted in a long list of high profile websites shutting down temporarily, including Twitter and Netflix.

The Mirai source code was even released online for everyone to access which kick-started the Botnet of Things - an age where even your refrigerators, washing machines and TVs can be hacked.

The consumers currently have no way to detect or fix such infections on their "smart" gadgets.

The things that have become part of Mirai botnets, for example, will be vulnerable until their owners throw them away.
Statistics about the number of vulnerable IoT devices

These botnets will get larger and more powerful over time because the number of vulnerable devices will be going up by orders of magnitude in the coming years, and as hackers find new ways to exploit the devices. All of this has resulted in many concerned individuals opening important conversations about the vulnerabilities in the security of the prevalent IoT devices which will definitely need to be addressed by companies in the future, or we could be looking at an era of the Botnet of Things instead of the Internet of Things that we were promised.

Prediction of Zettabytes of digital data created - all of which could be corrupted at once by one successful botnet attack
Created By
Kartik Chawla
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