Smart home cybersecurity news: Work From Home edition [March 2020]
In light of the global remote working movement taking place as a result of COVID-19, this month's smart home cybersecurity news roundup focuses on the new vulnerabilities introduced by working from home.
In the middle of March, we saw major tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon take a stance and implement remote working policies for their employees. Today, thousands of businesses have followed suit as states throughout the country impose lockdown procedures.
As a result, companies are having to quickly restructure their workplace dynamics, communication methods, employee resources, and— if not more importantly— their security protocols.
Some of the latest headlines highlight this need for revamped measures:
- The Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency issues alert and guidelines for companies relying on VPNs
- UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) provides guidelines for protecting corporate systems and data
- Security experts weigh in on the rise of phishing scams using coronavirus news to target remote workers
The gist is, work from home is effectively widening the home's existing attack surface while putting the previously internal corporate network at risk.
"The danger posed by these threats has been exacerbated by new requirements for "social distancing" and the resulting push by many organizations to widen or implement telework capabilities for their workforce. The sudden COVID-19-related surge in the use of videoconferencing, remote access, and VPN services — especially at organizations that have not used them before — is giving attackers more targets to go after and defenders a lot more terrain to protect." [DarkReading]
We explain a breakdown of what exactly the security implications are in this blog, which I'll summarize below:
Homes aren't equipped with corporate-grade network security
And at the same time, homes are already a top target for hackers. The attack surface here is constantly growing as more devices are connected and as new exploits are discovered in the home's router itself:
- Hundreds of millions of Broadcom cable modems found at risk with Cable Haunt vulnerability
- Thousands of Ruckus wireless routers found with a vulnerability that allows attackers to gain "root" privileges
- 32,000+ wireless routers targeted by the latest Gafgyt malware variant
The risk of attack becomes tenfold as the corporate network now operates from inside of the home. If an employee's home network or device has a vulnerability that's been exploited, now whichever corporate systems and files they access are at risk for compromise— even if they are using a VPN.
Plus as highlighted in a headline above, those working from home are now at even more risk as hackers leverage COVID-19 as a means for attack:
According to Check Point, more than 16,000 new Coronavirus-related domains have been registered since January. More than 2,200 of them are suspicious and another 93 are being used to serve malware. [DarkReading]
Of course, these are unprecedented times where organizations had to act quickly and not necessarily vet the setup of their employees' home networks first. Now, employers must work with their remote employees to ensure they are operating in a secure home work environment.
Guidelines put forth by the UK National Cyber Security Centre and Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency are a great place to start. In the long-run however, more tools are likely to be needed. You can learn more about how Minim is providing help here.
Past smart home cybersecurity news roundups:
- June 2019: Linksys Smart WiFi router vulnerability and Android pre-installed backdoor
- July 2019: Website drive-by attacks on home routers
- August 2019: VxWorks and Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor vulnerabilities
- September 2019: SMS-based attacks and major router vulnerabilities
- October 2019: What is Gafgyt malware?
- November 2019: What is Light Commands?
- December 2019: Blink camera and Ruckus router vulnerabilities
- January 2020: Ring doorbell privacy concerns