Reaping the benefits of security flaws in the IoT

Security has always been a tough nut to crack when it comes to the Internet of Things.  Having things fully secured yet always connected to other devices is like trying to balance an egg on your head whilst in a heavy downpour.  From large-scale attacks like the Mirai Botnet attack last year to smaller breaches across various systems, it’s clear that there’s a widespread issue with securing these networks and devices appropriately.  Today’s biggest problem though is a new botnet called Reaper.

What is Reaper?

In a way, it’s the same as Mirai was.  It’s a malware that attacks and infects different IoT devices through their network and lays dormant… at least for now.  Once activated though, it can be used to DDoS damn near any website or service its creator wants.

The purpose of Reaper as of right now is a mystery.  What we do know is that it’s infected quite a few IoT devices already and is growing and ‘evolving’ faster than Mirai was able to.  The worst part of Reaper is that, thanks to its dormant state, knowing your device is infected is difficult.  It won’t run any differently and will seem perfectly fine.

What will happen if/when it’s activated?

To put it simply, your device will be under their control.  It’s not as scary as it sounds though.  Collecting a large number of devices like what Reaper’s doing is generally only used for one thing — DDoS attacks.  By using thousands or even millions of devices at once to constantly send information requests to a server, they can effectively shut it down.

If used like Mirai was, it can cause serious, widespread issues with all sorts of different services.  In Mirai’s case, it was able to affect Spotify, Twitter, and even Amazon.

How can Reaper be stopped?

Well, the biggest problem with Reaper is that it’s not just infecting devices through a single issue, but through at least nine security vulnerabilities.  Constant updates through security patches are the best and only way to counteract it at this time and even that will take time, giving Reaper more time to grow and infect.

On the positive side, Reaper isn’t aiming to infect every single device it can get its hands on.  According to research released last week, it’s less aggressive than Mirai was.  Reaper focuses on remaining under the radar of security tools.

Looking forward is equally as important as quelling this current attack, though.  Right now, devices are vulnerable and yet still they’re taken to market much too quickly.  Investing a little money in proper security for our networks could help to save thousands in patches and possibly even legal fees.

Reaper is definitely dangerous, but it’s just the latest in what could be a long line of copycats.

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