Bangkok Post

Warning of web-connected devices boosting cybercrime

Attacks which crash websites by overwhelming them with traffic are becoming more frequent and intense, says network firm

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 2:12pm

By Suchit Leesa-Nguansuk

Cybercriminals are increasingly using internet-connected devices as weapons to launch massive cyberattacks to disrupt web services on the internet.

“The more mobile-connected devices, the higher likelihood of cyberattacks,” said John Ellis, chief strategist for cybersecurity for Asia-Pacific of Akamai Technologies, a leading US content delivery network firm.

Based on its report in the third quarter of 2016, potent malware dubbed Mirai solidified the industry’s fears that the Internet of Things (IoT) and other internet-connected devices could be used for both web applications and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which are malicious attempts to render a website or web application unavailable to users by overwhelming the site with an enormous amount of traffic, causing the site to crash or operate very slowly.

“This illustrated the need for device manufacturers to place a greater emphasis on security,” said Mr Ellis.

Most home routers and some IoT devices are accessible directly via the internet. Attackers can use those devices to surf web pages, relay traffic or even attack other devices on the web.

The lethality of any DDoS attack is a function of the total number of member bots and the average network speed of each bot.  As more devices become connected to the internet, the number of bots will grow, he said.

DDoS attacks are increasing in frequency and intensity. Telecom operators can experience problems and there are myriad issues that can quickly disrupt an organisation’s digital business, thus hurting customer confidence.

Mr Ellis said businesses reported that DDoS attacks cost them an average of US$1.5 million annually. DDoS attacks also cause reputational damage, compromise web performance and hinder productivity.

The global economy stands to suffer an estimated US$3 trillion in direct losses and missed opportunities from cybersecurity issues.

Cyberattacks cost businesses an estimated US$400 billion in 2015.

“The initiatives such as fast national broadband service have also increased the amount of damage that each botnet node can inflict,” said Mr Ellis.

He added that as the Thai government shifts to capture many of the opportunities in the digital economy, the country will need to defend against the ever-increasing threat landscape.

“Policymakers, planners, architects and operators need a coordinated plan to ensure that they can improve their nation’s cyber hygiene, promote cyber norms, and provide resilience,” he said. To harness this trend, he said Akamai Technologies offers cloud security solutions on the scale needed by organisations to stop the largest DDoS and web application attacks without reducing performance.

Warning of web-connected devices boosting cybercrime