digital home iot device

Infected IoT devices have more than doubled as a percentage of all devices infected from cyberattacks – from 16% to 33% since 2019 — according to the Nokia Threat Intelligence Report.

The reasons for the acceleration are poor security protection and the use of automated tools by those attacking the devices, researchers said. Network monitoring traffic from more than 150 million devices globally using Nokia’s NetGuard Endpoint Security provided the data for the assessment.

Visibility – or lack of it – is the key. Devices using public facing IP addresses can be seen by cybercriminals and therefore are more vulnerable than those masking their IP address in network address translation (NAT) configurations.

Put more simply: Nokia says that devices that are hidden have their vulnerability “considerably reduced.”

Cybercriminals are trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. An example is a coronavirus map application that mimics the one maintained by Johns Hopkins University. It plants malware on the users’ computer to try to steal personal information.

It seems unlikely that the growth of vulnerabilities in IoT devices will slow.

“The sweeping changes that are taking place in the 5G ecosystem, with even more 5G networks being deployed around the world as we move to 2021, open ample opportunities for malicious actors to take advantage of vulnerabilities in IoT devices,” Bhaskar Gorti, Nokia Software President and Chief Digital Officer, said in a press release about the infected IoT devices. “This report reinforces not only the critical need for consumers and enterprises to step up their own cyber protection practices but for IoT device producers to do the same.”

In related news, the midyear update of the 2020 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report showed a 50% increase in attacks on IoT devices grew 50%.

Service providers are reconizing the threat and adding services to address it. For example, late last year Windstream Kinetic Secure became available in all the provider’s markets. The product, which is an evolution of Windstream Shield products, provides endpoint and gateway/modem security.

In January, Comcast said it will offer xFi Advanced Security free to customers leasing the xFi gateway. The estimated value of the software is $72 annually. An estimated 18 million existing xFi customers were targeted for deployment during the weeks after the announcement.

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