IoT DDoS Threats Loom in CES Hot New Tech

CES is just wrapped. As the world’s premier event for consumer electronics, CES has become known for blockbuster device launches. From mobile, wearables and car technology to advancements in smart homes, TVs and cameras, the soon-to-be must-have products launched this year were no exception.

From the exhibit halls to the keynote stages, the latest and greatest connected devices and smart whatevers drew choruses of “oohs” and “aahs.”

Hackers are Watching

The devices manufacturers unveiled at CES illustrated bleeding edge innovation. And tech hungry consumers were watching, along with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attackers who have made the Internet of Things (IoT) their weapon of choice. These nefarious actors exploit millions of vulnerable IoT devices to create sophisticated malware-based DDoS botnets they then use to initiate devastating attacks. IoT vulnerabilities give these hackers the ability to scale their attacks across tens of millions of devices and unique IP addresses.

These new device announcements add more weapons to an already stocked arsenal of connected gadgets hackers have at their disposal that they can weaponize and leverage to launch DDoS attacks. It’s estimated that the number of IoT connected devices in the world will exceed 30 billion by 2020, that’s more than four times the earth’s population.

If we’ve learned anything from the Mirai botnet’s path of destruction in late 2016, during which attackers hijacked more than 500,000 webcams to launch a DDoS attack topping 1 Tbps, and last year’s WireX and Reaper threats, it’s that bad actors will latch onto unsecured devices and use them to do their bidding.

“Millions of unsecure, internet-enabled devices provide new threat vectors. Given the rapid proliferation of Internet of Things devices in advance of IoT-oriented security standards and configuration practices, expect these devices to be increasingly used as weapons for DDoS and other attacks,” said Adam Isles, principal at The Chertoff Group, a global advisory firm that provides security risk management, business strategy and merchant banking advisory services, in an eWeek article.

IoT Threats a Growing Concern Among Businesses

According to a recent AT&T Cybersecurity Insights report, nearly a third (32 percent) of surveyed organizations said IoT-based DDoS attacks are their biggest future cybersecurity concern. AT&T found that more than a third (35 percent) of all its survey respondents say IoT devices were the primary source of a data breach experienced over the prior year. And the outlook for future IoT attacks remains bleak, with 68 percent of survey respondents saying they expect IoT threats to increase in the coming year.

That said, AT&T found that 90 percent of organizations have conducted enterprise-wide cyber risk assessments in the past year, but only half (50 percent) have conducted risk assessments specific to IoT threats.

Meanwhile, according to our A10 Application Intelligence Report (AIR), distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks took the top spot among cyberthreats against businesses, with more than one third (38 percent) of IT decision makers saying their company has suffered an attack at least once over the past 12 months, with another 9 percent noting they’re not aware whether they’ve been attacked or not. Frighteningly, that means that nearly half of IT professionals say their company has either been a victim of a DDoS attack or they don’t know if they’ve been a victim.

A10 AIR respondents, however, don’t fear IoT as much as they probably should. For example, AIR respondents rank laptops as the most vulnerable type of device, more so than smartphones and even more so than IoT devices, a misperception that, if exploited, could give hackers an inroad into corporate networks.

This rash of IoT-based DDoS attacks when paired with lack of awareness and the growing roster of IoT devices hitting the market creates a potentially catastrophic cocktail of opportunity for savvy cyberattackers.

The consensus: IoT-based DDoS attacks will grow in both bot size and traffic volumes mostly due to their use of poorly-secured IoT devices.

“There will be millions of such vulnerable devices installed for years to come, with many device manufacturers only now starting to offer hardened versions of their products. Beyond specific threat types, we can expect to see attackers increasingly utilize the same technologies defenders are using for threat detection and response. For example, sophisticated attackers are already using big data analytics to scrutinize traffic patterns and search for opportunities and vulnerabilities that might not be evident without such broad and deep analysis.” CSO Online wrote.

Contributing to those millions of vulnerable IoT devices is this year’s crop of marquee CES announcements.

Protection from IoT DDoS Attacks

The rise of IoT DDoS attacks makes it imperative to rethink DDoS defenses to thwart these sophisticated and often devastating threats. Here are key things to look for in an effective DDoS defense solution to ensure that IoT DDoS attacks can’t take you down:

A10 Thunder TPS

A10 Thunder TPS is our DDoS defense solution that detects and mitigates multi-vector DDoS attacks at the network edge and scales to defend against IoT and traditional zombie botnets. Thunder TPS is built on A10’s market-proven Advanced Core Operating System (ACOS) – the platform that delivers scalable form factors and cost structures that makes economic sense with a complete detection, mitigation and reporting solution.

Thunder TPS delivers the industry’s best scale with up to 300 Gbps at a rate of 440 Mpps. And it can detect and mitigate attacks of all sizes, from megabit- to terabit-sized DDoS attacks. Additionally, Thunder TPS tracks more than 27 traffic behavioral indicators against learned peacetime traffic to detect anomalous behavior and surgically distinguish legitimate users from attacking bots.

All of this means that your business is better protected from IoT-borne DDoS attacks and the damaging downtime they cause.

To learn more about A10 Thunder TPS, read our data sheet.


January 15, 2018

About Andrew Hickey

Andrew Hickey serves as A10's editorial director. Andrew has two decades of journalism and content strategy experience, covering everything from crime to cloud computing and all things in between. READ MORE