Is your fridge sending spam?

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jan 21, 2014

It's possible that smart devices are sending spam, but it wouldn't make any difference.

Last week, security-as-a-service firm Proofpoint published a press release on a recent spam campaign in which emails had been sent from Internet-connected devices such as televisions and even a fridge.

At Ars Technica, Dan Goodin did a good job debunking the press release and pointing out that it provided little evidence that the spam was actually sent from these devices, rather than from an infected PC behind the same NAT.

At the same time, the lack of evidence doesn't mean that Proofpoint is necessarily wrong. After all, there are many 'smart devices', including fridges and televisions, that are connected to the Internet. The software running on these devices will have vulnerabilities, that could be exploited by those with malicious intentions, including spammers.

But would spammers bother? Profit margins on spam are very low and writing spam-sending malware to infect fridges is unlikely to pay for itself.

However, they probably don't have to write any new code: a lot of smart devices simply run a version of Windows or Linux. As such, a lot of run-of-the-mill malware will be able to run on smart devices and perform its malicious tasks, including the sending of spam. No doubt someone will soon provide conclusive proof that a fridge has been sending spam - or perhaps that a toaster has taken part in a DDoS attack.

It certainly makes for sensational, and slightly scary, headlines. Thankfully, it doesn't really matter.

For those in the business of fighting spam, an Internet-connected fridge is just another spam-sending device, and it is no more difficult to block spam sent from such a device than spam sent from your neighbour's Windows XP PC.

For the owners of smart devices, it is just another reminder that the software running on them needs to be updated regularly - and that having the devices connected to the public Internet comes with some risks.

For sure, the Internet of Things will provide many new challenges for the security community. Botnets of fridges and televisions, or 'thingbots' as Proofpoint calls them, engaged in sending spam aren't among them.

Update in a new blog post, Proofpoint provides more technical details on the campaign and says it too believes no specially crafted malware was involved.

Posted on 21 January 2014 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2019 paper: Domestic Kitten: an Iranian surveillance program

At VB2019 in London, Check Point researchers Aseel Kayal and Lotem Finkelstein presented a paper detailing an Iranian operation they named 'Domestic Kitten' that used Android apps for targeted surveillance. Today we publish their paper and the video…

VB2019 video: Discretion in APT: recent APT attack on crypto exchange employees

At VB2019 in London, LINE's HeungSoo Kang explained how cryptocurrency exchanges had been attacked using Firefox zero-days. Today, we publish the video of his presentation.

VB2019 paper: DNS on fire

In a paper presented at VB2019, Cisco Talos researchers Warren Mercer and Paul Rascagneres looked at two recent attacks against DNS infrastructure: DNSpionage and Sea Turtle. Today we publish their paper and the recording of their presentation.

German Dridex spam campaign is unfashionably large

VB has analysed a malicious spam campaign targeting German-speaking users with obfuscated Excel malware that would likely download Dridex but that mostly stood out through its size.

Paper: Dexofuzzy: Android malware similarity clustering method using opcode sequence

We publish a paper by researchers from ESTsecurity in South Korea, who describe a fuzzy hashing algorithm for clustering Android malware datasets.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.