IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

IoT attacks have increased by 200% in two years

Audio-visual and home automation devices are most at risk, says Zscaler report

Graphic representation of IoT devices in businesses

Attacks on internet of things (IoT) devices have ramped up 700% in two years, according to a study from security company Zscaler. 

In its IoT in the Enterprise: Empty Office Edition report published today, the company revealed the characteristics of IoT devices that it fingerprinted across its network of protected assets. 

During the two-week study period last December, the company also analyzed traffic coming from these machines to assess how much of it was malicious and what it did. 

Zscaler blocked roughly 300,000 malware-related IoT transactions in those two weeks. This was a seven-fold increase in the malicious traffic it found during the 2019 study. 

The company also found 900 unique payload deliveries to 18,000 unique hosts. Almost all those unique payloads (97%) belonged to the Gafgyt (63.1%) and Mirai (34.1%) botnets. However, the frequency of attacks was inverted; Mirai payloads accounted for 76% of attacks while Gafgyt payloads made up just 5% of attacks. 

CCTVs and digital video recorders were among the units most likely to phone home to a botnet's command and control server. The report found devices in this category from over 70 vendors infected by malware. Routers were also commonly infected in the study. 

Related Resource

X-Force Threat Intelligence Index

Top security threats and recommendations for resilience

Transparent cube against a black background - whitepaper from IBMFree download

The report called out devices from Linksys and D-Link, the latter of which settled with the FTC in 2019 for allegedly failing to include adequate security measures in its IoT products

Even today, most IoT devices transmit data in the clear, with only 24% using encryption. While still unacceptably high, it's up from the 17% in the company's 2020 report. That’s also a threefold improvement on the 2019 study, which found only 8.5% of devices transmitting data in the clear. 

Encryption was unevenly distributed across verticals, with devices in the health care sector using SSL roughly half the time. Conversely, only 2.7% of enterprise devices used SSL to encrypt communications. 

Entertainment and home automation devices, including virtual assistants, represented the biggest attack risk, according to Zscaler. The report said that this risk stems from their relatively infrequent encryption use and tendency to phone home to suspicious destinations. It's also because there are so many of these devices. Of the 553 device types found, almost one in three found were set-top boxes. One in five were smart TVs. 

Featured Resources

The state of Salesforce: Future of business

Three articles that look forward into the changing state of Salesforce and the future of business

Free Download

The mighty struggle to migrate SAP to the cloud may be over

A simplified and unified approach to delivering Enterprise Transformation in the cloud

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM FlashSystem

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by FlashSystem

Free Download

Recommended

What is zero trust?
network security

What is zero trust?

14 Jul 2022
Retbleed hardware-level flaw brings overhead woe to Intel and AMD
Hardware

Retbleed hardware-level flaw brings overhead woe to Intel and AMD

13 Jul 2022
An analysis of the European cyber threat landscape
Whitepaper

An analysis of the European cyber threat landscape

8 Jul 2022
Solve cyber resilience challenges with storage solutions
Whitepaper

Solve cyber resilience challenges with storage solutions

4 Jul 2022

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

29 Jul 2022
Samsung proposes 11 Texas semiconductor plants worth $191 billion
Hardware

Samsung proposes 11 Texas semiconductor plants worth $191 billion

21 Jul 2022
Should you take your password manager off the internet?
Sponsored

Should you take your password manager off the internet?

28 Jul 2022