Distributed Denial of Service attacks are becoming increasingly common. They don’t just target commercial websites; individuals also get attacked to the point where their Web access becomes unusable. This is a particularly prevalent occurrence among online gamers and gamblers. Many DDoS attacks only last for five minutes, but that can be enough to lock out a winning rival in a game tournament or online poker match.
DDoS attacks are launched through botnets. This is a large group of computers or Internet devices that are commanded to all try to access the same Internet or Web address at the same time. This overwhelms the target’s gateway computer, presenting a larger number of transactions than it can handle and filling up the queue to access it. Legitimate callers get locked out because there isn’t even enough space left for them to be allowed to wait for access.
Your IoT devices can be roped into being part of a DDoS attack. Find out what you can do to prevent this from happening.
A botnet is an “army of zombie computers.” That sounds scary and creates a horrific image that really overstates the situation. The computer participating in an attack shows no signs or performance impairment. This is because botnets include tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of computers all over the world. The “distributed” part of the DDoS name ,eams that all of the processing is spread across multiple processing points that are geographically dispersed.
An effective DDoS attack only requires each computer to send one small packet to the target. The fact that each confusing packet comes from a different source makes it difficult to block. Therefore, if it is infected, your computer won’t suddenly go into overdrive sending out thousands of packets, it just sends out one.
Botnets don’t harm the computers that they infect, so you are not being attacked. This lack of damage also makes the botnet activity on the host computer difficult to detect.
Hackers have worked out that IoT devices, such as heart monitors, security cameras, and thermostats are much easier to appropriate for a zombie army. This is because computers usually have very good virus protection and firewalls that ban all incoming connection requests.
IoT devices have full Internet access but very little protection. What’s worse, they often have standard administration access credentials. A manufacturer will use the same username and password for all units of the same product because that makes it easier for them to deploy automated processes in order to update firmware.
Most home automation products do not have user interfaces, and getting to the admin console can be a bit of a bother. Add to that the fact that most IoT device owners are probably not that knowledgeable about the technical features of the gadgets that they buy, and you can see why these products are the perfect aids for a silent attack that occurs very infrequently.
How to Protect Your IoT Devices
There are measures that you can take to reduce the likelihood of your IoT devices becoming part of a Botnet.
1. Change the password on your device as soon as you get it
Hackers use automated methods to break into devices – they don’t sit there trying to work out a way to defeat the target’s defenses. They will send out probes that automatically break into the operating systems of IoT devices by following a series of steps. If the attempt fails, the hacker doesn’t even get notified. If your password is not the standard one that the hacker has discovered, then he won’t be able to get in.
2. Disable unnecessary extra features
The plug-in-play capabilities of your device are particularly dangerous because they follow a standard protocol that anyone can read. That gives the hacker time to work out a way to fool the Plug ’n Play into accepting a connection. That is fruitful research because it will apply to any device anywhere in the world that has Plug ’n Play built into it.
3. Don’t connect your device to an outside network.
Taking the device somewhere else and connecting it to another Wi-Fi network increases the chances of infection. You can’t be sure that the other network is as secure as your home system. An even better option is to only connect it to the local network.
4. Install a VPN on your router
The VPN will encrypt all of your traffic and only accept incoming traffic from its corresponding remote server. VPN servers are extremely well-protected against virus infection and can absorb and filter out very large DDoS attacks. They will filter out any malicious traffic before it gets to your router.
5. Research your device’s reputation
Reduce the likelihood of your digital property from being appropriated into a botnet by only buying equipment that has a strong security reputation. Products that got away with not being infected over a long period are less likely to become targets. Hackers aren’t going to invest their time trying to crack a strong security system when there are plenty of easier targets out there.
Pay Attention to Your IoT Devices
Ultimately, your property is your responsibility, and it is worth reading through the manual and exploring the admin console to better understand the features and capabilities of each device that you buy. Understanding your gadgets will help you be aware of their vulnerabilities.
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