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IoT Bot Landscape Expands, Attacks Vary by Country

New report finds 1,005 new user names and passwords beyond Mirai’s original default list two years ago.

Roughly two years after the Mirai Internet of Things (IoT) bot took down the Internet for much of the eastern United States and parts of Europe, Netscout security researchers have found that the bot landscape has expanded considerably.

By setting honeypots across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, researchers observed nearly 200,000 brute-force attacks from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30, according to Matt Bing, a security research analyst at Netscout. The team found 1,005 additional user name and password combinations beyond Mirai's original default list of 60.

"A lot of what we were trying to do is find out what has changed from the original Mirai source code from the fall of 2016 and how it has expanded," Bing explained in a blog post today. "We found they were looking to attack new and different types of IoT devices, such as webcams and travel routers. The first Mirai attacks focused on DVRs."

Bing said the researchers also found trends specific to certain regions. For example, "root/20080826" was found in Russia on a travel router widely used there, while "telecomadmin/admintelecom" was prevalent in China, where that user name and password combo is found on widely used Huawei routers.

"We also found that when bots using specific manufacturer default passwords would infect devices, they would launch attacks from those compromised devices," Bing said.

Given this new information, Bing advised security pros to keep their IoT devices up to date and behind a firewall. Home users should place their IoT devices behind a home router.

"We'd also suggest companies use honeypots to understand the landscape and gain insights into where these IoT attacks are headed," Bing said.

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