Cyber actors actively search for and compromise vulnerable Internet of Things (IoT) devices for use as proxies or intermediaries for Internet requests to route malicious traffic for cyber-attacks and computer network exploitation, according to a public service announcement from the FBI.
IoT devices, sometimes referred to as “smart” devices, are devices that communicate with the Internet to send or receive data. Examples of targeted IoT devices include: routers, wireless radios links, time clocks, audio/video streaming devices, Raspberry Pis, IP cameras, DVRs, satellite antenna equipment, smart garage door openers, and network attached storage devices.
IoT proxy servers are attractive to malicious cyber actors because they provide a layer of anonymity by transmitting all Internet requests through the victim device’s IP address. Devices in developed nations are particularly attractive targets because they allow access to many business websites that block traffic from suspicious or foreign IP addresses. Cyber actors use the compromised device’s IP address to engage in intrusion activities, making it difficult to filter regular traffic from malicious traffic.
Cyber actors are using compromised IoT devices as proxies to:
- Send spam e-mails;
- Maintain anonymity;
- Obfuscate network traffic;
- Mask Internet browsing;
- Generate click-fraud activities;
- Buy, sell, and trade illegal images and goods;
- Conduct credential stuffing attacks, which occurs when cyber actors use an automated script to test stolen passwords from other data breach incidents on unrelated web-sites; AND
- Sell or lease IoT botnets to other cyber actors for financial gain.
Cyber actors typically compromise devices with weak authentication, unpatched firmware or other software vulnerabilities, or employ brute force attacks on devices with default usernames and passwords.