The wheel turns slowly, but it turns: Feds emit IoT security tip sheet

Alexa! Are you part of a botnet?

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has offered advice on securing Internet of Things devices to prevent "Cyber Actors" using your garage door for nefarious purposes.

The cheat sheet, following hot on the heels of tips on how to fend off cyber attacks last year, includes an explanation of what a Cyber Actor is (sadly, not a Max Headroom reference), how to know if a device is compromised, and steps to users can take to protect themselves.

The Feds list a variety of potential targets for miscreants, from the obvious (routers) through to the obscure (a clock). Even the poor old Raspberry Pi doesn't escape the gimlet gaze of the Bureau.

A Cyber Actor, the FBI warned, might use a compromised device to unleash a tsunami of spam, mask internet browsing by ne'er-do-wells or take part in botnets aimed at finding or exploiting vulnerabilities or data breaches. Users will never be able to look at their garage door quite the same way again.

Recruited by foreign powers

The FBI also has tips on how to know if you have a compromised device, presumably before the Feds come knocking on your door after your microwave has attempted to swing an election at the behest of a not-so-nice foreign power.

The wheels come off a bit when it comes to symptoms. Device unresponsive? A spike in internet usage? Internet access seems a bit slow? Yep – something is compromised. Either that, or Windows 10 is updating again.

A hipster man with shades claps, saying bravo

Porn parking, livid lockers and botched blenders: The nightmare IoT world come true


The advice to resolve, or defend against the problem, is enough to make a BOFH's heart sing, starting with simply turning everything off and then turning it back on again on a regular basis. The Feds also recommend changing default passwords, keeping up to date with patches (tricky with an IoT device) and keeping the things isolated from other network connections.

Taking aside the practicalities of restarting a security camera once a day, or finding a patch for a cheap bit of silicon shipped out from an obscure corner of Shenzhen, it is good to see authorities taking seriously the challenges posed by the wave of IoT devices. Even if it carries the distinct whiff of the stable door of security being firmly closed long after the horse of criminality has bolted over the horizon.

The alternative approach, sadly not mentioned by the FBI, is to simply not have any IoT in the house – something becoming more difficult with every passing year. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • US won’t prosecute ‘good faith’ security researchers under CFAA
    Well, that clears things up? Maybe not.

    The US Justice Department has directed prosecutors not to charge "good-faith security researchers" with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) if their reasons for hacking are ethical — things like bug hunting, responsible vulnerability disclosure, or above-board penetration testing.

    Good-faith, according to the policy [PDF], means using a computer "solely for purposes of good-faith testing, investigation, and/or correction of a security flaw or vulnerability."

    Additionally, this activity must be "carried out in a manner designed to avoid any harm to individuals or the public, and where the information derived from the activity is used primarily to promote the security or safety of the class of devices, machines, or online services to which the accessed computer belongs, or those who use such devices, machines, or online services."

    Continue reading
  • Intel plans immersion lab to chill its power-hungry chips
    AI chips are sucking down 600W+ and the solution could be to drown them.

    Intel this week unveiled a $700 million sustainability initiative to try innovative liquid and immersion cooling technologies to the datacenter.

    The project will see Intel construct a 200,000-square-foot "mega lab" approximately 20 miles west of Portland at its Hillsboro campus, where the chipmaker will qualify, test, and demo its expansive — and power hungry — datacenter portfolio using a variety of cooling tech.

    Alongside the lab, the x86 giant unveiled an open reference design for immersion cooling systems for its chips that is being developed by Intel Taiwan. The chip giant is hoping to bring other Taiwanese manufacturers into the fold and it'll then be rolled out globally.

    Continue reading
  • US recovers a record $15m from the 3ve ad-fraud crew
    Swiss banks cough up around half of the proceeds of crime

    The US government has recovered over $15 million in proceeds from the 3ve digital advertising fraud operation that cost businesses more than $29 million for ads that were never viewed.

    "This forfeiture is the largest international cybercrime recovery in the history of the Eastern District of New York," US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement

    The action, Peace added, "sends a powerful message to those involved in cyber fraud that there are no boundaries to prosecuting these bad actors and locating their ill-gotten assets wherever they are in the world."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022