New online menaces: from spamming fridges to hijackers

Those security-risk scenarios may not be as far-fetched as you think.

Indeed, a fridge has already been caught sending .

Security provider Thinkpoint Inc. said last month it had uncovered more than 750,000 malicious emails from more than 100,000 everyday consumer gadgets such as home-networking routers, multi-media centres, televisions and at least one refrigerator.

Just as hackers can take over personal computers, creating robot-like “botnets” to send spam or other emails, now they are compromising Internet-connected objects, or “thingbots’ for the same ends.

“Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur,” said David Knight, general manager of Proofpoint’s information security division.

Rik Ferguson, vice president in charge of security research for Japan-headquartered Trend Micro, said the most common mobile security threats now were viruses designed to make your  send a premium-cost  or even make a premium-cost call without your knowledge.

Next on the list is spyware, which collects personal information like an address book for malicious ends such as fraud or spam, extending in rare cases to taking video images or sound from an infected device.

But a new, potentially more ominous threat is emerging as more and more everyday objects are connected online and to smartphones, a phenomenon known as the “Internet of Things”.

“Things like connected cars bring the risk of physical damage to persons and property in an attack,” Ferguson said in the run-up to the February 24-27 World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain.