Security experts have revealed that the attack on the DNS servers which brought down Twitter, Facebook, PayPal and many other global Internet heavy weights was powered by a botnet army of hijacked domestic Webcams.
These cheap devices, now installed in millions of homes along with a rapidly increasing number of Internet connected devices, represent a serious security threat that can go way beyond just stopping us accessing our favourite social media account.
IOT devices can be inherently insecure by design. With vendors focusing on keeping costs to a minimum in a bid to grab a share of this lucrative and growing market, little or no thought is being given to the security implications of adding Webcams or a smart heating controller to our home networks. For today's professional hackers this is equivalent to a burglar finding all the doors and windows of your house open and all your valuable possessions laid out ready to take away.
While, to any individual having a Webcam sequestered without their knowledge and used to help take down a commercial Web site may not be a personal disaster, it should hopefully act as a wake-up call and make people think about the implications for other possible uses the hackers can make of this hole in their security.
The irony is that something installed to increase the security of someone's home turns out to be the exact opposite. The law of unintended consequences writ large.
As well as Webcams and the like, today's typical family home is likely to include multiple desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones and connected TVs all sharing the same broadband connection for online shopping and banking, email, social media updates as well as possibly sharing sensitive files with an employer's network servers. Hopefully people will take some precautions and have an AV software package and firewall running but the likelihood is that they probably also use the same (weak) password for everything.
To a hacker such security systems will offer only a minor inconvenience but with the prospect of an open door IOT device available as an easy back door entry point to deploy malware or clear out banks accounts there is a real and serious threat to anyone who does not look for ways to mitigate the problem.
The question is what can be done to strengthen defenses in a home? particularly if you are one of the majority of people to whom technology and particularly security, are among the dark arts for others to worry about.
One answer is to unplug the router and go back to pre-Internet days but I don't think this would be a popular solution. A more realistic alternative is to deploy technology capable of inspecting and blocking all suspect traffic from ever reaching vulnerable devices on the network in the first place.
Up until now, for the average family this would have been about as realistic or feasible as disconnecting from the Web. While a well-maintained intrusion detection and prevention system can detect 99% of all bad traffic hitting a network and are widely deployed by enterprises as essential components in the defense strategies, they can be too expensive and complex to manage for smaller businesses and for households to even consider.
However, this situation has now changed following the launch of IDappcom's Cyber-protection service, this low cost, managed subscription service is not only capable of recognising the tell-tale signatures associated with all the most serious threats against common applications and operating systems but will also spot any malicious files being uploaded onto an IOT device and has rules that look for Incidents of Compromise (IOC) to prevent them from being used as part of a botnet.
Using a compact black box device that can be set up in a few minutes using basic IT knowledge, linked to and managed by team of security experts the new service provides not only a secure environment for all the family's browsing activity but will also ensure that any smart IOT devices in the home can be safely used without being highjacked for nefarious purposes.