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Miscreants have launched an Internet of Things-based cyberattack involving household "smart" appliances.

The global spam distribution campaign involved more than 750,000 malicious email communications coming from more than 100,000 everyday consumer gadgets.

Items such as home-networking routers, connected multi-media centres, televisions and at least one refrigerator were reportedly compromised and used as a platform to launch attacks.

Cloud security firm Proofpoint reckons the attack spewed out waves of malicious emails, in bursts sent three times per day, targeting computers users worldwide between 23 December and 6 January.

Many of these malicious emails pushed phishing scams designed to trick recipients into visiting cybercrook-controlled websites and hand over their online banking login credentials.

More than 25 per cent of the email volume was sent by things that were not conventional laptops, desktop computers or mobile devices. No more than 10 emails were initiated from any single IP address, making the attack more difficult to block.

Misconfiguration and the use of default passwords left the devices completely exposed on public networks, available for takeover and misuse by spam distributing cybercrooks. Security shortcomings turned smart appliances into "thingbots" open to abuse by criminal hackers, according to Proofpoint.

The security firm reckons that what might be the first proven Internet of Things-based cyberattack represents the shape of things to come as more and more devices are connected to the net. ®

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