Computer security researchers discovered a botnet operating from home appliances, including televisions, routers, and even a smart refrigerator.
Online security is an incredibly challenging field, made all the more complex thanks to botnets. These omni-present networks spread by infecting electronic devices with trojans, usually for the purpose of sending spam emails or denial of service attacks from multiple locations. Note that I said "electronic devices" and not "computers"; security experts have warned that home appliances are also at risk, especially in an age of smart appliances. These experts were proven correct after tracing a spam email botnet to internet-connected appliances, even finding traces on an unsuspecting refrigerator.
According to a report from California security firm Proofpoint, the organization documented huge spikes of malicious emails sent to individuals and corporations alike, up to 300,000 per day. An investigation ultimately found the offending botnet within home networks, having infiltrated routers, televisions, multi-media centers, and at least one refrigerator.
"Botnets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse," Proofpoint's David Knight explained. "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 online and attackers find additional ways to exploit them."
While researchers were certainly aware of these risks already, this appears to be one of the first documented cases of internet-connecting appliances being used for malicious purposes. Forget about the hazards of Skynet: Clearly the true danger is the humble fridge, coldly calculating its next move and striking when we'll least expect it.