How to hack 420,000 internet devices

By: John McGarvey

Date: 25 March 2013

Anonymous masks - internet hackingHere's a stark reminder that internet security perhaps isn't quite as tight as we'd all like.

An anonymous researcher managed to take control of 420,000 insecure internet devices like webcams, network routers and printers.

They were use to effectively create a huge network of internet devices that could be used for dodgy purposes like taking websites down via denial of service attacks. (The researcher didn't go ahead and cause any damage, but the potential was there.)

Standard passwords

What's striking about this research is both the huge number of devices that could be compromised, and the ease with which it could be done. Quite simply, the researcher accessed each device by trying standard usernames and passwords like admin or root.

In a month where a high-profile cyber-attack against South Korea hit the headlines, it's important for your business to remember that sometimes the simplest hacking attempts - like trying default usernames and passwords - can be just as damaging.

Don't neglect the obvious

The anonymous researcher summed up the problem in a post online:

"While everybody is talking about high class exploits and cyberwar, four simple stupid default telnet passwords can give you access to hundreds of thousands of consumer as well as tens of thousands of industrial devices all over the world."

In short: choose your passwords carefully. And whenever you add a new piece of equipment to your computer network, check if it has sign in credentials and change them if so. If you don't, you could be a part of this problem.

Image: Rob Kints / Shutterstock.com

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