Internet Of Minions


IoT (AKA internet-of-shit, AKA internet-of-hacked-things) has been in the spotlight for a while now after two consecutive DDoS incidents where IoT devices were the source of the attack, just to state the problem is little bit older, many experts did warn about the situation, it started with a small impact, like a fridge sending spam but now the situation is getting out of hand.

A little bit of history

This kind of hacks is not new , it goes back to the dawn of internet, back then devices were not “smart” yet, hence the attack was mainly on PCs, Trojans like Sub7 were a famous method to infect and control PCs, people lacking technical experience were an easy target, anti-viruses were not that good also at this time, which made Trojans like Sub7 gain a handful of ground to launch DDos attacks , but what has changed making the situation now dangerous ?

Now everything is smart!

First what are these IoT devices ? , You know this “smart” TV, Tea kettle connected to your phone, “smart” door lock that shows you a video feed when someone knocks your door and “smart” cars etc… these are IoT devices, basically we are giving network connectivity to all devices, some people argue that we have given internet hands and feet through IoT .

Gartner estimates a typical household could contain more than 500 IoT Devices by 2022 ,but do we really need all these stuff !? frankly, I think NO !

There are some factors which makes the IoT ecosystem catastrophic:

  • The rapid growth of personal internet speed, a hacked PC behind a 33.6 kbit/s modem is not that big of threat courtesy of

  • IoT vendors doesn’t have proper framework to provide updates to their devices.

  • IoT average consumer doesn’t know/care how to update his device (When was the last time you updated your router firmware ?)

  • IoT vendors uses the same default easy-to-guess password on all their devices .

These factors are the main contributors making the whole situation a ticking bomb, but is it really that bad ? , what can hackers do with these IoT devices ?

Well, a lot can be done, lets see some examples :

  • DDos doh!, specially with these high speed connection we all have now, IoT minions once owned by a hacker can be used for his own benefit or even rented as in DDos-as-a-service, picture below shows IoT botnet in action:

Mirai_botnet in action

  • SOCKS Proxies, hackers can use owned IoT devices to hack other machines online, so the attack will appear as if its coming from your home camera , hence your IP, and police will accuse you instead ! , once more the hacker can rent your devices to make money .

  • spam campaigns , sending spam emails through your devices .

  • “smart” cars connected online, regardless driven or self-driving, cars can be hacked and stolen or even to kill on-board passengers, scary right ?!

  • RansomWare hitting IoT devices, think about your “smart” heart pacemaker being hijacked by ransomware.


Bottom line we are building very powerful things - yet most of them are useless - without proper policies or regulations, and we are hoping for the worst scenario wont happen, but it will happen .

So, can this situation be fixed

Yes, but needs huge efforts from all parties , I will try to list some here :


  • Establish policies and regulations for manufacturing, updating and importing IoT devices and their components.

  • Enforce polices on IoT manufacturers .

  • Monitor and penalize non-adhering IoT manufacturers .

IoT manufacturers:

  • Adhere to government regulations .

  • Deliver secured constant updates (OTA style) to their devices throughout their lifetime.


  • Implement BCP 38 Network Ingress Filtering
  • Actively handle customers with exploited IoT devices, like downgrading their speeds, terminate their connection etc.. .

IoT Consumers:

  • Only buy an IoT device from a manufacturer providing regular updates .

  • Check for username/password reset functionality .

  • Check for the ability to disable telnet service.

  • Check for the ability to disable SSH service.

  • Check for the ability to change telnet/ssh port .

  • Only buy an IoT device with backup/restore functionality .


  • Throttle down IoT devices connection speed ?

Final thoughts :

While many IoT devices improves our lives in a good way - specially the industrial devices - yet household IoT devices are mostly serving lame uses, dehumanizing our relationships, do we really need to automate our lives that much ?

Further reads :

Security Economics of the Internet of Things

Europe to Push New Security Rules Amid IoT Mess

Written on October 15, 2016