Application Security
9/7/2017
01:20 PM
50%
50%

10% of Ransomware Attacks on SMBs Targeted IoT Devices

IoT ransomware attacks are expected to ramp up in the coming years, a new survey shows.

Some cybercriminals are leveraging the growing base of IoT devices in enterprises that come with little or no security as targets for their ransomware attacks, a report released today by Arctic Wolf found.

IoT devices were the targets of 10% of all ransomware attacks on small-to midsized businesses, according to the survey of 300 IT and security executives of companies with between 200 to 3,000 employees.

"[That] was a lot higher than I was expecting," says Young-Sae Song, vice president at Arctic Wolf. "I was expecting something less than 5% because IoT is still an emerging technology."

According to the survey, one-fourth of all cyberattacks the SMBs suffered involved ransomware. And of this ransomware group, IoT devices comprised a significant portion, Song says. "Anything 10% or more is getting into a significant amount."

The collision of ransomware and IoT attacks is expected to increase for a number of reasons, Song says, pointing to the rapid adoption of IoT devices by small and mid-sized businesses and their continued use of rudimentary cybersecurity such as only firewalls and antivirus software

"It's not hard to combine a ransomware campaign with an IoT attack," Song says. "At the end of the day, they are often both attacking the same operating system and software."

It doesn't take much extra work to attack IoT devices as part of a ransomware campaign, he notes. That's because in many cases, IoT devices ultimately connect to a Windows or Linux server to share information and data and these servers can be locked down as well by ransomware once an IoT device has been compromised. IoT attacks accounted for 13% of the all security breaches listed by survey respondents, compared to 25% for ransomware, the survey found.

But in the next year or two, Song predicts IoT ransomware attacks are likely to increase to around 25% to 30% of all ransomware cases.

Ransom for Function, Not Data

The notion of IoT ransomware attacks have clearly moved beyond the theoretical and into real-life scenarios. Earlier this year, according to a New York Times report, the swanky Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt hotel in Austria fell victim to an IoT ransomware attack.

Cyberthieves took control of the hotel's electronic key system, locking guests out of their rooms. In order to regain control of the hotel rooms, Romantik's management agreed to pay the ransom demand of approximately $1,800 in bitcoins, according to the Times.

Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable CISOs and IT security experts in a setting that is conducive to interaction and conversation. Click for more info and to register.

IoT ransomware cases are markedly different than traditional ransomware attacks, which lock down access to important documents and data and usually are accompanied with a ransom demand. IoT ransomware cases, in contrast, target devices that serve a functional purpose but may or may not store data within the device, security experts say.

One security professional, Javvad Malik, a security advocate at AlienVault, noted in a Dark Reading post that IoT device hijackers not only need to "compromise the data collected through a device's sensors, but [would also need to] render a critical device's physical functions inaccessible," in order to up the odds that a victim will pay the ransom.

So ransomware attackers would likely target mission-critical IoT devices like automated robotic arms used on a manufacturer's production plant floor, rather than a consumer device like a talking Barbie.

Related Content:

 

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
1.9 Billion Data Records Exposed in First Half of 2017
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/20/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Jan, check this out! I found an unhackable PC.
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
Enterprises are spending more of their IT budgets on cybersecurity technology. How do your organization's security plans and strategies compare to what others are doing? Here's an in-depth look.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.