Find (and Fix) Your Fish Tank

Recently an unnamed casino's network was hacked via an internet-connected fish tank. (Yes, a fish tank...) Hackers exploited a flaw in the fish tank's software and then used it to move around the rest of the casino's network, compromising other machines and stealing data.

Despite the obvious question of why a fish tank would be connected to the internet in the first place, what is the true lesson here? How many of us have a "fish tank" in our homes or businesses just waiting to be hacked by cybercriminals?

Take a moment to survey all the devices on your network. Look past the obvious ones i.e. PCs, phones and tablets and look for things you may have forgotten about. At home that could be smart TVs or game consoles you haven't used in awhile, kitchen appliances, security cameras, and so on. At work, do you have old or forgotten (or perhaps unauthorized) PCs or Wi-Fi routers connected to your network? Do you have backup appliances, email archiving systems, temperature alarms or wireless video devices, and so forth? These "forgotten but not gone" devices can be just what hackers need to gain entry into your network.

Although it's not certain, it's quite likely that the casino in question had been specifically targeted by these criminals, but that's not how it typically works. Simply having a presence on the internet is enough for your devices to be discovered via automated "drive-by" attacks and taken over if they're not properly secured. This year we've especially seen the effects of poorly secured IOT (Internet Of Things) devices on home networks being compromised and used to conduct denial-of-service attacks against other networks as well as other systems spreading malware and ransomware.

At the moment, the best way to battle these cybercriminals to put up a good defense against them. By keeping our network devices secured, we provide less attractive targets for them. So, check to see if the software on all your "fish tanks" has been patched and up to date. If not, get them updated now. If no patches are available for a device, then get rid of it. If that's not possible, then isolate it from your main network or, better yet, disable its network access completely if you can. And while you're at it, don't forget to change the default administration passwords.

As the number of internet-connected devices increases, cybercriminals are getting more creative in the ways to take them over for (their) fun and profit. In order to keep them at bay, we have to remain vigilant. The old saying holds true... we're only as strong as our weakest link. So find your fish tank and plug any links you find.