Zombie IoT Devices: Reviving Your IoT Home Security Before It’s Too Late

by | Oct 17, 2023

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If you’re not sure what IoT home security is and how bot attacks can overwhelm it like a zombie horde, then you’re in the right place. Keep reading to see why every home should be aware of Zombie IoT attacks.

Anyone who has seen a zombie movie knows that a single zombie is not the main threat. The trouble begins when there are dozens or hundreds of zombies that can quickly overwhelm someone through sheer numbers rather than individual strength. The same is true when it comes to IoT home security.

What is the internet of things (IoT)?

The internet of things is the network of physical devices, including everything from your voice-connected home assistant to your smart thermostat, that turn your home into a smart home by connecting to and exchanging information over the internet.

In other words, the internet of things consists of every device that connects to the internet for the purpose of transmitting information about its functions.

Cybersecurity and the internet of things

So what’s the connection between IoT security issues and a wave of zombies knocking down your door?

There will be 22 billion IoT devices in the world by 2025. That number is so large that it’s hard to even imagine. However, it includes devices like sensors in machinery, cars, and appliances such as smart fridges that connect to the internet.

In fact, you’re likely surrounded by IoT devices right now whether you’re at home or in an office.

The use of IoT devices has exploded since technology like cloud computing and low-power sensors has become cheaper, allowing businesses to use them more efficiently. On top of that, consumer demand for internet connected devices has brought IoT devices home and made them a part of everyday life.

IoT at home

The reason why IoT, especially IoT at home, can be a cybersecurity risk is because each IoT device is an added vulnerability in a network. In other words, your network is only as strong as your weakest link and each device you add to it is another exposure that could be broken and exploited by bad actors. IoT devices are especially prone to cybersecurity issues since so many manufacturers are making internet connected devices but many don’t know or follow IoT device security standards.

That doesn’t only mean your data is at risk. It’s your security too since IoT tech like baby monitors can be hacked. In the worst cases, strangers can even talk to you and your loved ones through your IoT devices.

That may seem hard to believe, but many IoT items come with minimal or default security settings. In some cases specific IoT device security flaws or default credentials can be leaked online allowing hackers to quickly access the devices in your home or business. Even if the security credentials are not leaked, default security settings can easily be overwhelmed through brute force attacks.

IoT bot attacks

IoT devices across an entire network can even be hacked simultaneously and directed to overwhelm a network like a mass of zombies.

One of the most common forms of IoT bot attacks is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which is when multiple devices send requests to a IP address repeatedly. As the network tries to respond it receives more requests and tries to simultaneously respond to those requests until it freezes and denies service to normal traffic.

Although DDoS attacks are not new, they still cause major disruptions and are difficult to stop once they begin.

How to secure your internet of things ecosystem

You can have a secure IoT network in your business or home without completely cutting out IoT devices. The following steps are a great starting point that will keep you from being the lowest hanging fruit. Don’t forget that you’ll need to stay up to date on IoT security if you want to stay that way!

  • Update all your IoT devices if possible. Otherwise, they may have security features that have already been exploited and could be again. Continue to update your devices as soon as updates are available.
  • Create strong, unique passwords for password protected devices. Use a password manager to keep up with each one so you do not reuse passwords.
  • Set up multi-factor authentication on your devices if available.
  • Be picky about what new devices you introduce to your network. Reconsider purchasing a device if there’s no reason for it to be internet connected or the manufacturer has no information about their cybersecurity features.
  • Block external traffic through firewalls and network configuration.
  • You can also create a network solely dedicated to your IoT devices. Leave your essential devices like computers and smartphones off this network so you can shut it down or operate without it in case one device is breached.

Bookmark the Quantum Fiber blog for more smart home security tips so your IoT devices are always on your side!

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author avatar
Michael Erpenbach
Michael Erpenbach is a writer who dived into the world of tech after his first job installing electronics on houseboats. Since then, he has specialized in cybersecurity and finding solutions for his dad’s tech issues. When not writing about technology for Quantum Fiber he spends his time reading, falling down coffee-centric rabbit holes, and finding excuses to go outside.
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