Survey Survey

IoT attracts the attention of cybercriminals in 2018

In the period, Symantec registered 5.200 attacks on average per month, which took advantage of the Internet of Things’ systems’ vulnerabilities


is the average number of websites infected by formjacking each month

blocked formjacking attacks on endpoints

Source: IDC Predictions 2019

The number of attacks to the Internet of Things (IoT), to the cloud, and to supply chains grew exponentially during the past year, according to Symantec’s Annual Internet Security Threat Report. The paper shows that in 2018 there was an increase both in the variety of threats and the attacks’ ambition.

IoT vulnerabilities have remained stable during 2018 in comparison to the previous year, with a slight variation of -0.2%. Absolute numbers, however, continue to grow, following the dissemination of the Internet of Things. Symantec registered an average of 5.200 attacks per month during the entire last year.

It is important to note that all IoT gadgets are vulnerable, even smart lights or voice assistants. To better illustrate how insecure are the objects targeted by these attacks, nearly 25% of the passwords are the numerical sequence “123456”; while 17% of devices are straightforwardly unprotected. Free access to cybercriminals.

Nevertheless, what draws the most attention is the growing variety of attacks. A remarkable novelty is that, if thus far the majority of attacks was a denial of service, 2018 saw the rising of a malicious VPNFilter, responsible for a large portion of the IoT security breaches. The malware is capable of stealing credentials and even destruct the device to wipe out all evidence of the attack.

Still on IoT, viruses and bots answered for the majority of issues on routers and camera systems, targeted by 75% and 15% of attacks, respectively. Particular emphasis on the Mirai malware, which distributed viruses that caused many of the famous denial-of-service attacks on IoT, totaling 16%. The Mirai already has 16 attack variations – and continues to evolve.

According to Netscout Systems’ Threat Intelligence Report, IoT attacks are growing as if on steroids. The volume of denial-of-service attacks against institutions such as the UN and the International Monetary Fund, for instance, increased nearly 200% when comparing the second half of 2017 to the same period of 2018.

Main equipment used on IoT attacks (yearly) em %

Housing approximately 10% of IoT attacks, Brazil ranks in third place worldwide, after China and the USA. There are now, in the world, roughly 7 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things, according to IoT Analytics. By 2025, the number could reach 25 billion.

Business at risk

The JavaScript formjacking code, which also appeared in 2018, is the most used for stealing payment data from users logged into e-commerce sites. Every month of 2018, nearly 4.800 portals suffered attacks, among the victims, airline British Airways and the giant entertainment tickets seller, Ticketmaster.

Although simple enough to block a malicious JavaScript, a detected dynamic makes the life of e-commerce companies’ security managers even harder: the formjacking invades third-party software, such as Microsoft Office, to conduct the attacks. The amount of infected Word documents attached to e-mail rose from 5% in 2017 to 48% in 2018.

Main countries originating IoT attacks (yearly)

Most used passwords on connected devices (yearly)