Devices connected to the internet are on average, face cyber attacks every five minutes. Source: Shutterstock

Devices connected to the internet are on average, face cyber attacks every five minutes. Source: Shutterstock

Will the emergence of IoT make the internet less safe?

THE innovative technologies and advance development facilitated by the digital age have benefited humanity immensely, completely transforming every facet of our lives while helping set the trajectory of the future.

However, along with the significant beneficial impact of technologies, also comes the dark, seedy side of the digital world – cyber crimes and cybersecurity threats-  which are also getting more sophisticated by the day.

A recent media report, claims that digital devices that are connected to the internet – computers, phones, and webcams – are being attacked on average every five minutes.

Referred to as “doorknob -rattling,” these are the same types of attack deployed by Mirai botnet to unleash distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on major websites such as Netflix and Twitter in 2016 after taking control of over 600,000 devices.

While most computers and smartphones are protected from such attacks due to built-in security measures, many IoT devices that are connected to the internet, such as webcams, CCTV cameras, and printers among others are not impervious.

Security experts believe that as long as any device is connected to a public network, and has a public IP address, someone is going try hack into it, and the attempts to breach into machines are akin to the background noise of the internet.

Armies of malicious devices and botnets always seeking to take control of other devices that are sharing a common network is now a permanent feature of the digital realm.

The botnet Mirai was created by a US computer science student, Paras Jha who first deployed it on his university website to stall an exam. He also provided his expertise to other companies to protect them from similar attacks.

In an effort bamboozle the authorities who were hot on his heels, he releases the Mirai’s source code online which led a proliferation of the Mirai-like botnets controlled by legions of cybercriminals around the world.

Network security companies often set up what is called “honeypots” which are simulated connections that are intentionally left vulnerable to attract these botnets and record their modus operandi.

Generally, Mirai-style botnets, choosing IP address at random will attack the honeypot within minutes and seek to connect to it using default username and passwords.

With the emergence of IoT, cybersecurity experts have sounded the alarm, raising concerns that explosion in the number of IoT devices that still uses passwords and rarely updated will become an easy target to hackers to access a home network.

Users, however, could take proactive security measure to protect themselves from malicious botnets or to connect to the internet via a firewall or a home router.

Beyond that, to fend off more sophisticated attacks that will emerge with the constant development of technologies, more advanced security measure that integrates future technologies such AI and machine learning has to be developed and deployed to stay one step ahead of the cyber threats.