Think your computer is as safe as houses? Think earthquake!
We all like to think that our computers and hardware is secure, but the truth is we are lulling ourselves in to a false sense of security. A recent secret scan of the entire internet has revealed millions of printers, webcams and set-top boxes protected only by default passwords.
A researcher working under anonymity used more than 420,000 of these insecure devices to test the security and responsiveness of other gadgets, in a nine-month survey.
Using custom-written code, they sent out more than four trillion messages.
The net’s current addressing scheme accommodates about 4.2 billion devices. Only 1.3 billion addresses responded.
The scan found half a million printers, more than one million webcams and lots of other devices, including set-top boxes and modems, that still used the password installed in the factory, letting almost anyone take over that piece of hardware. Often the password was an easy to guess word such as “root” or “admin”.
The researcher stated that “Whenever you think, ‘that shouldn’t be on the internet, but (I expect it) will probably be found a few times,’ it’s (actually) there a few hundred thousand times”.
HD Moore, who carried out a similar survey in 2012, says that the results looked “pretty accurate”.
He added he had seen malicious hackers exploiting the security failings of these devices to run criminal networks known as botnets that are used to send out spam, mount phishing attacks and bombard websites with deluges of data.
So now is a good time to check that you are using secure passwords for all you hardware and connections and not the default factory ones! If you are not sure, change it before you become a victim!