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October 20, 2017

Internet killing botnet could control a million devices

The Reaper botnet is comparable to Mirai, but it has some dangerous differences, and researchers believe it has infected more than a million devices already.

By Tom Ball

A botnet named IoT_reaper has formed and already infected in excess of a million internet of things (IoT) devices including cameras, according to researchers, and it could disable the internet.

The botnet is showing signs of the notorious Mirai botnet, and it has been found to run on code from its formidable predecessor.

While the Reaper botnet has some foundational elements that are similar to Mirai, it has fundamental differences. This new form of attack utilises exploits, hijacking devices in a more direct and powerful way.

These differences have contributed to the speed with which Reaper has infected so many devices already. The Israeli security firm, Check Point, has analysed the attack and provided this estimation of its terrifying scale.

Mark James, Security Specialist at ESET: “With the sheer amount of IoT devices, supposedly exceeding £20 billion in 2017, it makes perfect sense that malware writers and indeed digital criminals will utilise as many of those devices as possible to help them plunder the internet. Unlike normal criminal activity it’s not governed by boundaries- it makes no difference if the compromised device exists in the UK, USA or Australia, its all fair game to them.”

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The internet has become intertwined with human life, an integral society that we have so far not considered vulnerable. An attack on this scale could cause the world to grind to a halt, and the repercussions would be colossal, potentially even endangering life.

“Alongside food and water, the internet is fast becoming something we cannot exist without. Everywhere we go we want to be connected, to do that effectively we need internet routers ,and as crime increases and funding for manpower decreases, the availability and cost of remote cameras seems the easiest solution to keep an eye on things. These two electronic devices exactly meet the requirements botnets need- the ability to understand remote commands, connect or distribute internet and be able to send information onwards,” said James.

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