Report warns of users caught in the middle of new cybercrime turf war


HONG KONG, CHINA – Media OutReach – 16 July 2020 – Trend Micro Incorporated
(TYO: 4704; TSE: 4704), the
global leader in cloud security, today
released new research warning consumers of a major new wave of attacks
attempting to compromise their home routers for use in IoT botnets. The report
urges users to take action to stop their devices from enabling this criminal


There has been a recent spike in attacks targeting and leveraging
routers, particularly around Q4 2019. This research indicates increased abuse
of these devices will continue as attackers are able to easily monetize these
infections in secondary attacks.


“With a large majority of the population currently reliant on home
networks for their work and studies, what’s happening to your router has never
been more important,” said Jon Clay, director of global threat
communications for Trend Micro. “Cybercriminals know that a vast majority
of home routers are insecure with default credentials and have ramped up
attacks on a massive scale. For the home user, that’s hijacking their bandwidth
and slowing down their network. For the businesses being targeted by secondary
attacks, these botnets can totally take down a website, as we’ve seen in past
high-profile attacks.”


Trend Micro’s research revealed an increase from October 2019 onwards
in brute force log-in attempts against routers, in which attackers use
automated software to try common password combinations. The number of attempts
increased nearly tenfold, from around 23 million in September to nearly 249
million attempts in December 2019. As recently as March 2020, Trend
Micro recorded almost 194 million brute force logins.


Another indicator that the scale of this threat has increased is devices
attempting to open telnet sessions with other IoT devices. Because telnet is
unencrypted, it’s favored by attackers — or their botnets — as a way to probe
for user credentials. At its peak, in mid-March 2020, nearly 16,000
devices attempted to open telnet sessions with other IoT devices in a single


This trend is concerning for several reasons. Cybercriminals are
competing with each other to compromise as many routers as possible so they can
be conscripted into botnets. These are then sold on underground sites either to
launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, or as a way to anonymize
other attacks such as click fraud, data theft and account takeover.


Competition is so fierce that criminals are known to uninstall any
malware they find on targeted routers, booting off their rivals so they can
claim complete control over the device.


For the home user, a compromised router is likely to suffer performance issues.
If attacks are subsequently launched from that device, their IP address may
also be blacklisted — possibly implicating them in criminal activity and
potentially cutting them off from key parts of the internet, and even corporate


As explained in the report, there’s a thriving black market in botnet
malware and botnets-for-hire. Although any IoT device could be compromised and
leveraged in a botnet, routers are of particular interest because they are
easily accessible and directly connected to the internet.

Trend Micro makes the following recommendations for home users:


  • Make sure you use a strong password. Change it from
    time to time.
  • Make sure the router is running the latest
  • Check logs to find behavior that doesn’t make sense
    for the network.
  • Only allow logins to the router from the local


To read the complete report, please visit: 


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