The Internet of Things (IoT) and, specifically, the hunt for exploitable IoT devices by attackers, has been a primary area of research for F5 Labs for over a year now—and with good reason. IoT devices are becoming the “cyberweapon delivery system of choice” by today’s botnet-building attackers. And, why not? There are literally billions of them in the world, most of which are readily accessible (via Telnet) and easily hacked (due to lack of security controls). Why would attackers rent expensive resources in hosting environments to build their botnets when so many devices are “free” for the taking?
Across all of our research, every indication is that today’s botnets, or “thingbots” (built exclusively from IoT devices) will become the infrastructure for a future darknet.*
In our third semi-annual report on this topic, we continue to track Telnet attack activity and, through a series of global maps showing infected systems, we track the progression of Mirai, as well as a new thingbot called Persirai. We also include a list of the administrative credentials attackers most frequently use when launching brute force attacks against IoT devices.
Mirai systems in Europe — June 2017
Here are the key findings based on analysis of data collected between January 1 through June 30, 2017:
- Telnet attack activity grew 280% from the previous period, which included massive growth due to the Mirai malware and subsequent attacks.
- The level of attacking activity at the time of publishing doesn’t equate to the current size of Mirai or Persirai, indicating there are other thingbots being built that we don’t yet know about. Since there haven’t been any massive attacks post Mirai, it’s likely these thingbots are just ready and waiting to unleash their next round of attacks.