Botnets Continue to Pose a Threat to the Internet of Things

Visualization of a computer hacked by a botnet

5G networks are bringing plenty of exciting features, none of which may be more exciting than its ability to power the Internet of Things (IoT). The basic concept is that the IoT is a network of smart devices that use wireless communication to perform tasks. For a more in-depth look, you can check out our previous blog post on the subject here, but for a basic overview think everything from your Amazon Alexa to self-driving cars and anything else that can connect wirelessly.

These devices can create vast opportunities in virtually any industry. But they can also cause a very dangerous situation for humans as they continue to grow in popularity. Hackers can use our devices to invade our privacy, steal our personal information, or even put our lives in danger. There are things such as acts of terror or corporate sabotage to consider and the main concern surrounding all of this is botnets.

But what are botnets and how can we combat them to protect the next generation of technology? Measures have already begun and protecting the IoT as well as other wireless devices looks to continue to become an ongoing challenge for developers and the government.

What is a Botnet?

Botnets are networks of computers simultaneously running bots that can attack and disable computers and steal information. Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks are common and when botnets infect a device, it will then use it to for its network to continue attacking other devices. Hackers use malware to steal and leak personal information and even manipulate a device’s use.

The main problems with botnets won’t change with the IoT but think about the aftermath. It’s one thing to have your identity stolen and computer unusable. It’s another to have a fleet of cars that can be manipulated putting drivers at risk or a plant’s machinery that is sabotaging production orders or stealing company secrets. Keeping up with security is going to be a challenge for the public, private sectors, and even the government.

The Federal Government Expects an Ongoing Battle

Fighting botnets doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon with hackers gaining additional targets as we produce more wirelessly connected devices. The government continues to play a role in fighting such attacks and even helping private businesses with best practices to prevent botnet attacks. Thankfully, the Trump administration does seem to be making some headway and has found multiple ways to bolster cybersecurity to help mitigate these threats according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Over 50 concerted efforts were reported by the Department of Commerce and Homeland Security that showcased the collaboration between businesses and the government to counter botnet attacks.

Botnets Are Evolving

While efforts continue to grow, so do the way botnets work. They continue to evolve and the main challenge will be seeing how businesses, governments, and the general public continue to grow with them to counteract their wrongdoing. Take a look at some of the ways experts are seeing botnets evolve according to RCRWireless News:

  • The noted move of botnets attacking IoT-related devices.
  • Improved technology is creating an opportunity for smaller botnets that carry more power.
  • Botnets are being used to influence the real world through politics using social media as an avenue to manipulate opinion.
  • Attacks continue to become more complex which makes them more difficult to overcome.
  • State-sponsored attacks are on the rise.
  • Botnet operators don’t want to be detected and are using cultural and global trends to distribute attacks in geographical areas in which they are not present to devices they are least likely to be affected by or traced from. This allows for greater distribution of attacks in targeted areas.

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