A cyberattack that sent 750,000 spam emails between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6 used more than 100,000 Internet-connected smart devices, including such consumer gadgets as televisions, media players and even a refrigerator. A favorite tactic of Internet attackers is to infect and take over PCs and then use them to create networks of "zombie" computers to send spam, launch denial-of-service attacks and carry out other nefarious plots.
But a new report from Proofpoint, a security-as-a-service provider, says that as more devices become "smart" and connected to the Internet, those devices become vulnerable to similar attacks. The Proofpoint report said it "observed and profiled" the Dec. 23 to Jan. 6 attack that sent 750,000 malicious email communications from a network that included more than 100,000 everyday consumer gadgets including home-networking routers, multimedia centers, televisions and one refrigerator that had been infected with "thingbots." Proofpoint said the incident marked the first time the security industry had proved that such everyday devices were part of a cyberattack network.