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  • Published 08 Jan 2019

    Guarding your business from hacker zombies

    Suppose you’ve bought a brand-new car. You park it somewhere and leave it unattended. How long before the criminal elements gather round it and try the doors, or see if they can bump-slide the windows down or just rock the car to see if the alarm is set?

    It depends on a lot of factors. The first one to consider is where did you park it? Did you pull up in a posh residential area, did you leave it on the high street or were you unfortunate enough to have to park in the dodgy end of town, in the local ‘no-go zone’? And secondly, what time is it? There’s a big difference between three in the afternoon and three in the morning.

    2 Minute Warning

    In a similar vein, how long is it before a new internet connected device starts to get probed to determine its vulnerability, and if it is vulnerable, for it to be compromised? Shockingly, the answer could be as little as two minutes. Let me say that again: if your newly connected device is vulnerable, it could be compromised and hijacked within two minutes. This was tested and demonstrated by Johannes B. Ullrich, a member of the SANS Technology Institute.

    When I first heard that statistic, I thought it couldn’t be right. There’d almost have to be a hacker for every device – it just didn’t add up. Well, it does add up, once you know the facts. You’re not being attacked by hackers, but by malware.

    The truth of the matter is the whole of the internet is the bad end of town, and it is permanently three in the morning. It’s like the hackers are mad scientists, and they have filled the streets with monsters. It doesn’t matter if you only ever go to reputable web sites, you still have to share the streets with these monsters – all the malware, viruses and attack-bots. It’s like visiting well-known and trusted high-street shops, but during the zombie apocalypse.

    Mirai malware

    One of the most prevalent and infamous variants of this type of malware is the Mirai malware developed by Paras Jha, 22, Josiah White, 21, and Dalton Norman, 22. The malware originally targeted over 32 types of device, including Dahua CCTV cameras, Panasonic printers, RealTek routers, Samsung IP cameras, Toshiba network cameras, Ubiquiti Routers, web sites, Xerox printers and ZTE routers.

    Because the Mirai source code is readily available on GitHub it has been used by numerous other malware authors to create a myriad of other malwares all derived from the original design. This has massively increased the number of brands and devices that can be targeted and has also multiplied the attack methods the bots can use.

    So, sadly, you can think of the internet as though it were your town, the streets are filled with zombies and they’re all rattling your doors and testing your windows. Every two minutes. And new types of zombie keep appearing. It’s not a comforting thought. So, take comfort from this.

    Compliance is essential for defence

    74% of US security experts in a survey of 1,200 organizations feel adherence to compliance requirements is either ‘very’ effective or ‘extremely’ effective in protecting businesses from cyber threats.

    (Can you guess what happened to the Mirai authors? They now work for the FBI hunting cyber criminals. Ironic, isn’t it?)