$55 surveillance camera hacked by Mirai botnet within 98 seconds

Robert Stephens bought the camera from Amazon for testing purposes

The Internet of Things has become more of a joke lately because of the never ending styles of exploitation that these poor devices are being subjected to by malicious cybercriminals and hackers. It is now widely believed that the IoT devices are seriously prone to cyber attacks as their various inherent vulnerabilities make them easy targets for attackers.

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The latest flaw in the severely hyped IoT devices was discovered by a tech industry veteran Robert Stephens, who identified that his security camera could be compromised within 98 seconds only as soon as it gets connected to Wi-Fi.

This was merely an experiment from Stephens but even then he was cautious enough to rate his network as limited and isolated the camera from the rest of the network-connected devices so as to ensure that a DDoS attack is prevented.

When he was able to compromise the camera he carefully kept observing the traffic in order to check attempts from third-parties to control the vulnerable device. However, he didn’t expect it to occur in less than two minutes’ time. To his surprise, after 98 seconds, the camera was plagued with a Mirai type worm and it became apparent to Stephens that the default login and password were exposed.

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The worm started checking out the device it had newly captured and completely downloaded itself on the camera. If Stephens wasn’t wise enough to lock the device beforehand, he would have been in great trouble as the device would have become an open platform for malicious attackers to play their games.

The camera used for this experiment was a cheap one created by a company that is known for selling smartwatches for 12USD. So, it is obvious that the camera wasn’t a very reliable one and was not created by a top-class brand.

Stephens stated that although this vulnerability in security cameras can be fixed with simple password change or a firmware update but not all users are aware of it and this also cannot be done in two minutes.

Here is a series of tweets from Stephens explaining what happened and how:

Remember, Internet’s largest ever DDoS attack was conducted on France-based OVH hostings who suffered 1Tbps attack with security cameras compromised by Mirai DDoS botnet. Mirai was also involved in DDoS attack on Dyn DNS that forced Twitter, PayPal and other giants to go offline.

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Let’s hope that good quality IoT devices will offer better protection against such worms and are able to block all incoming traffic till the time they are connected with other devices or set up manually. But at the moment, it seems like a far cry.

Written by Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.