Your Weekly Tech Tidbit – The attack of the killer soda machine!

April 19th, 2018

The other day I was sitting in one of our Tech Talk presentations and Bob discussed the importance of Internet of Things (IoT) security.  That made me think of the very real incident that happened in 2017 where a University's soda machines, light bulbs, and other IoT devices created a denial of service (DoS) attack against the University!


Malware-laced soda machines were plugged into the University's network!   When it was all over, approximately 5,000 IoT devices on campus had been hacked and had to be manually reset.

Your networks have become much more than doing business office, guidance, and instructional functions.  They do security, identity management, cloud integration, HVAC, refrigeration, phones, cameras, alarms and more.

If something is plugged into your network by any vendor, some of the basic questions you must ask are:

  • Who supports these devices?
  • How are they patched?
  • Who patches them?
  • When are they patched?
  • Have all devices been assigned non-default passwords?
  • What are the passwords to the devices?

Then you must place these devices in the appropriate VLAN(s) in your network.  Bob has given many presentations about giving vendors their own VLAN so that if one of them doesn't do the right thing patching or security-wise, you can at least force them to stay in their lane and not cross-infect the broader network.

I know that many of you have networks without vendor-specific VLAN segments or devices that should legitimately be in a DMZ segment sitting inside your network.  You may need to re-work some parts of your network to get things where they need to be moving forward.

Summer is coming.  If I have just described your network, we should talk and figure out the best way to tighten up vendor and IoT security.