[Note: This item comes from friend David Rosenthal. DLH]
Rash of in-the-wild attacks permanently destroys poorly secured IoT devices
Ongoing “BrickerBot” attacks might be trying to kill devices before they can join a botnet.
By Dan Goodin
Apr 6 2017
Researchers have uncovered a rash of ongoing attacks designed to damage routers and other Internet-connected appliances so badly that they become effectively inoperable.
PDoS attack bots (short for “permanent denial-of-service”) scan the Internet for Linux-based routers, bridges, or similar Internet-connected devices that require only factory-default passwords to grant remote administrator access. Once the bots find a vulnerable target, they run a series of highly debilitating commands that wipe all the files stored on the device, corrupt the device’s storage, and sever its Internet connection. Given the cost and time required to repair the damage, the device is effectively destroyed, or bricked, from the perspective of the typical consumer.
Over a four-day span last month, researchers from security firm Radware detected roughly 2,250 PDoS attempts on devices they made available in a specially constructed honeypot. The attacks came from two separate botnets—dubbed BrickerBot.1 and BrickerBot.2—with nodes for the first located all around the world. BrickerBot.1 eventually went silent, but even now the more destructive BrickerBot.2 attempts a log-on to one of the Radware-operated honeypot devices roughly once every two hours. The bots brick real-world devices that have the telnet protocolenabled and are protected by default passwords, with no clear sign to the owner of what happened or why.
Move over, Mirai
The attacks are a variation on those mounted by Mirai, a botnet made up of network cameras, digital video recorders, and other so-called Internet-of-things devices. The point of Mirai is to build an army of devices that cripple prominent websites with record-setting distributed DoS attacks. The motivation for the PDoS attacks remains unclear, in part because BrickerBot.2 attacked a much wider variety of storage devices—including those used by servers—rather than storage used only by more limited IoT devices.
“When I discovered the first BrickerBot, I thought it was a drastic attempt to stop the IoT Botnet DDoS threat,” Radware researcher Pascal Geenens told Ars. “I thought this was a competitor hacker who wanted to take out his competition and get access to the list of IP [addresses] of bots that were in the competitor’s botnet. But upon discovery of the second BrickerBot this theory changed, as the second one is targeting any Linux-based system—not only embedded, BusyBox-based Linux with flash storage. What motivates people to randomly destroy things? Anger, maybe? A troll, maybe?”