On October 21st, 2016 the Internet saw one of the largest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in history! The unknown attacker(s) were able to crash some of the web's most popular websites, including Netflix, Spotify and Twitter, using a botnet of Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as digital cameras, DVR players and Wi−Fi routers.
Most of these devices were compromised through phishing emails or malware downloads opened by unsuspecting users. Hackers use these tactics to recruit web−connected devices into a botnet army, which can be used by cybercriminals to send spam, crash websites or spy on your online activities.
These kind of cyber security challenges might make you wonder: what happens to compromised devices? Are they safe to use? Are there ways to free your favorite devices from ne'er−do−wells?
In a USA Today article, Chinese electronics maker Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology said millions of its web−connected cameras and digital recorders were hacked as part of the massive DDoS attack, and the company is recalling millions of its U.S. products. However, the company is unwilling to take the brunt of the blame, claiming that its customers failed to change their default passwords.
The article goes on to say that the "hack has heightened long−standing fears among security experts that the rising number of interconnected home gadgets, appliances and even automobiles represent a cybersecurity nightmare." After all, these new IoT devices often lack sufficient security protocols or firewalls to the public internet.
Obviously the worst−case scenario for any company or consumer is having to recall devices with an unalterable security flaw.
While product recalls may be necessary for the most severe of cases, most of cyber security challenges can be remedied by downloading the latest software updates. If applicable, this is far less expensive for companies and easier for consumers.
Software developers regularly patch security gaps with various updates, which is why it is so important to take heed of update prompts. Clicking 'ignore' could be putting your computer and business at risk!
Scan, Rinse & Reinstall
Antivirus programs are the first line of defense for many consumers. If you suspect your device has been compromised, update your security software and scan your device. This will help identify any security concerns such as viruses or malware.
If you still suspect nefarious activity, you may want to take your infected device to an IT organization to inspect it further. Have any spam emails been sent from your accounts? Do you have Trojan horse programs lurking in the background? An IT professional will be able to scan your device, remove any offending software and reinstall the programs to get your device up and running again.
As mentioned before, passwords play a big part in our digital privacy. Reduce your vulnerability to hackers by changing the default passwords on your Wi−Fi routers, webcams and other IoT devices.
If your devices are compromised, Recode recommends changing your passwords starting with your email account first since most your password resets will be sent to your email. Follow up by changing your financial passwords and other critical accounts.
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