Fridge sends spam emails as attack hits smart gadgets

Junk email The fridge was one of 100,000 devices used as part of the spam attack

Related Stories

A fridge has been discovered sending out spam after a web attack managed to compromise smart gadgets.

The fridge was one of more than 100,000 devices used to take part in the spam campaign.

Uncovered by security firm Proofpoint the attack compromised computers, home routers, media PCs and smart TV sets.

The attack is believed to be one of the first to exploit the lax security on devices that are part of the "internet of things".

Poor protection

The spam attack took place between 23 December 2013 and 6 January this year, said Proofpoint in a statement. In total, it said, about 750,000 messages were sent as part of the junk mail campaign. The emails were routed through the compromised gadgets.

About 25% of the messages seen by Proofpoint researchers did not pass through laptops, desktops or smartphones, it said.

Instead, the malware managed to get itself installed on other smart devices such as kitchen appliances, the home media systems on which people store copied DVDs and web-connected televisions.

Many of these gadgets have computer processors onboard and act as a self-contained web server to handle communication and other sophisticated functions.

Investigation by Proofpoint into the internet addresses involved in the attack revealed the presence of the smart gadgets, said David Knight, general manager of Proofpoint's information security division.

"The results spoke for themselves when the addresses responded with explicit identification, including well-known, often graphically branded interfaces, file structures, and content," he told the BBC.

Mr Knight speculated that the malware that allowed spam to be sent from these devices was able to install itself because many of the gadgets were poorly configured or used default passwords that left them exposed.

He said attacks such as this would become much more routine as homes and furnishings got smarter and were put online.

"Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur," he added.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Technology stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • People take part in an egg-cracking contest in the village of Mokrin, 120km (75 miles) north of Belgrade, Serbia on 20 April 2014In pictures

    Images from around the world as Christians mark Easter Sunday


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


BBC Future

(SID)

Road designs that trick our minds

Subconscious signs used for safer driving Read more...

Programmes

  • An aerial shot shows the Olympic Stadium, which is closed for repair works on its roof, in Rio de Janeiro March 28, 2014.Extra Time Watch

    Will Rio be ready in time to host the Olympics in 2016? The IOC president gives his verdict

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.