Printers & Fish Tanks: Unlikely Vector Attacks in Your Office

Wednesday July 25 2018

The current wave of creativity and innovation in the tech world is a double-edged sword. The boom involving the Internet of Things (IoT), cryptocurrency, and other new technologies have also brought about a wave of hackers, intent on using these same conveniences to profit through illegal scams. In fact, cybersecurity giant Symantec observed a 600% increase in IoT attacks between 2016 and 2017 . Meanwhile, there’s been a staggering 8500% increase in the detection of cryptocurrency miners in the last quarter of 2017.

Anything Can Be Used as Attack Vectors

One thing to note is that as long as it’s connected to your network, it’s a potential entry point for hackers. For instance, in 2017, an unnamed casino had its data stolen. Upon investigation by cyber security firm Darktrace, it was found that the entry point was the last thing you’d expect: a fish tank. The tank had sensors connected to a computer in the system, which automatically regulated its temperature, feeding times, as well as its cleaning and filtration system. Darktrace director Justin Fier explains that someone used the fish tank  to move into other areas of the network and access sensitive data – 10GB of it to be exact. These were then sent to a device in Finland.

Similarly, the FBI had warned parents about possible privacy risks  involving children’s toys connected to the Internet. Modern toys that have access to the Internet, have cameras, sensors, microphones, GPS, or data storage can be hacked to gain personal information. They can then use it against families and private individuals. If it’s connected to the Internet, it’s a viable attack vector that any competent hacker can exploit.

Keep Operating Systems Updated

Specialists over here at Cyber Security Chicago have already warned of another viable entryway  into private networks: the cloud. Cloud-based solutions and software are a common tool for most modern businesses who want to store data. And one of the easiest ways to access the cloud is through employee’s mobile phones. This problem is made worse by the fact that many consumers and businesses continue to use mobile phones that run on older operating systems. In fact, one study showed that only 20% of current Android devices are running the newest, safest version of the Android OS. If you’re going to rely on the cloud to store your data, it would be wise to keep your personnel’s mobile devices up-to-date, especially those with sensitive, higher level access.

As our already tech-reliant world becomes even more data-driven, essential industries and services become more and more vulnerable to the unknown. This is an issue that businesses, cybersecurity professionals, and schools should work together to help solve. Maryville University’s cyber security page highlights how protecting your assets  from cyber security breaches is more important now than ever before. Governments and businesses need to secure data and client information as best they can, especially now that hackers are getting more creative when it comes to the industries that they’re targeting. Cyber security professionals and students must keep on top of the different tech trends to understand how to protect data.

Increasing Demand for Higher-Level Cyber Security Professionals

Soon, concerns about data theft and ransomware will be turned towards driverless cars, automated heavy cargo industries, and connected homes. With greater innovation comes an even greater responsibility to protect private and public resources from attacks. The good news for cyber security professionals is that this means more career opportunities for anyone with a sound understanding of data security. At the same time, whoever is in charge of defending against hackers will need to be several steps ahead of the modern cyber criminal. Only time will tell if today’s white hat hackers will be able to step up to these new challenges.


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Submitted by: Jennie Bass