The IoT Botnet Wars: How to Harden Linux Devices from DoS Attacks (.PDF Download)

Aug. 9, 2017
The IoT Botnet Wars: How to Harden Linux Devices from DoS Attacks (.PDF Download)

An ongoing battle being waged is leveraging insecure Linux-based Internet of Things (IoT) devices. BrickerBot (see "Beware BrickerBot, the IoT Killer") is a recent malware strain attacking connected devices and causing them to “brick,” making an electronic device completely useless in a permanent denial-of-service (PDoS) attack. It may be a case of grey hat hacking and a direct response to the Mirai botnet distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that enslaved IoT devices.

The Mirai botnet consisted of connected printers, IP cameras, residential gateways, and baby monitors that flooded DNS servers. Mirai was behind the largest DDoS attack of its kind ever in October 2016, with an estimated throughput of 1.2 terabits per second. It leveraged these enslaved devices to bring down large portions of the internet, including services such as Netflix, GitHub, HBO, Amazon, Reddit, Twitter, and DIRECTV. BrickerBot’s goal appears to counter Mirai’s: Bricking insecure Linux devices so that malware such as Mirai can’t subjugate these devices in another DDoS attack.

An internet service provider in Southern California, Sierra Tel, experienced widespread outages due to this battle. Its Zyxel modems were victim to BrickerBot and another malware, possibly Mirai. It took nearly two weeks to replace all customers’ modems. This was the same modem model that Mirai infected and took out a German ISP’s network, an outage that affected a population size larger than San Francisco.

Hajime is another Mirai-like worm that has been spreading during the past several months with similar goals as BrickerBot: Thwarting malware such as Mirai in exploiting poorly secured IoT devices to do their bidding. Hajime accesses devices by scanning the internet and trying a set of default credentials, and then injecting a malicious program.


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