IT specialists are becoming increasingly concerned by a growing risk to their intelligent devices. Known as the IoT_Reaper botnet, the new threat looks for embedded hardware such as the latest security cameras, in which it can hide, covertly harness processor power and direct attacks at selected targets.
Why hack security cameras?
Hacking IP cameras may not be merely for destructive malevolence, but to tamper with the output for criminal reasons. It is this latter possibility that alarms experts; hackers might take advantage for nefarious purposes, especially robberies.
Hardware at risk
Reaper follows the notorious Mirai botnet, which targeted vulnerable cameras during 2016 and caused extensive downtime. Chinese researchers and Israeli security experts have spotted some recycled code, partially adapted to propagate through unpatched devices instead of looking for open network ports.
Dahua cameras may be at particular risk; their firmware security update requires action by users to check applicability, download and install – not as easy as a straightforward click, nor are there automatic alerts. Other network cameras and unsecured routers might also be susceptible, including D-Link, Linksys and Netgear products.
To date, experts have already identified more than 30,000 devices participating in the botnet, though this could be the tip of the iceberg.
Targeted attacks — and how to prevent them
Worryingly, the Reaper also receives updates from its still unidentified perpetrator(s). A likely motive seems to be to harness processor power to inflict distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, whether to cause chaos or target selected corporations and countries. Wider concerns include criminals deciding to incapacitate security networks, force victims offline and demand ransoms.
Consequently, device manufacturers recommend that customers visit hardware support sites and check the advice, follow instructions and upgrade their hardware as appropriate.