A security firm has discovered that non-phone or non-computer smart devices that are Internet-capable are also susceptible to hacks. Not only that, about 100,000 household devices — including at least one fridge — sent out tons of spam messages around Christmas-time last year. Thanks a lot, evil refrigerator.
According to ProofPoint, more than 750,000 sketchy messages were sent out from a number of smart appliances:
Home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator... had been compromised and used as a platform to launch attacks. As the number of such connected devices is expected to grow to more than four times the number of connected computers in the next few years according to media reports, proof of an IoT-based attack has significant security implications for device owners and Enterprise targets.
Proofpoint explains that the "Internet of Things" (which is exactly what it sounds like: web-linked things) is an easy target for hackers, as the devices are poorly guarded compared to phones, tablets, and computers. (When was the last-time you updated your smart fridge password?). According to Proofpoint, a smart thing easily becomes a thingbot if it's infected by malware. The thingbot can then function as a normal, virus spreading computer would.
The company predicts that more malicious software will end up on smart devices as hackers make use of their poorly guarded software:
"Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur. Enterprises may find distributed attacks increasing as more and more of these devices come on-line and attackers find additional ways to exploit them."
According to Proofpoint, this is the first example of malware transmitted via the Internet of Things, which it defines as potentially including smart thermostats, microwaves, security cameras, TVs, gaming consoles, industrial machinery and more.
Thanks to Ray Bradbury, though, we all know that smart houses are a terrible, terrible idea, and will prepare ourselves for the humans vs. appliances battle accordingly. In his 1950 story "There Will Come Soft Rains," Bradbury tells of an evil automatic house that outlives its family.
So enjoy these last days of your good old, dumb, refrigerator, that only knows how to make ice and sometimes isn't even very good at that. Soon we will have to fight the refrigerators as they try to rule us all.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.