Is someone using your toaster to mine bitcoin? It may be possible in today’s Internet of Things

If your toast comes out better done than you’re used to, there may be more to the story. As more devices

If your toast comes out better done than you’re used to, there may be more to the story. As more devices are finding themselves connected to the internet- the ‘Internet of Things’ as it has become known- they become susceptible to invasive mining.

Such was discussed by Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki last week:

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“Cryptocurrencies are interesting as they open up new opportunities [for hackers], like mining…Attacks don’t target the user but the computer itself. Internet of Things devices can be hacked to mine cryptocurrencies and make money.”

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Anything from refrigerators to toasters can be a legitimate target, so long as it as some computational processing capabilities and connectivity to the web. Such connectivity is intended to optimize a device’s performance through, for example, remote monitoring and control.

But those vulnerable to malware may be eyed as profit center by invasive miners, which have targeted a variety of hardware from smartphones to CCTV security cameras.

To be sure, the hashing power on such platforms is negligible. Thousands or even millions would have to be penetrated to see any tangible return. But their performance, however, may be compromised significantly. Some coins are also easier to mine than Bitcoin (although not worth as much). Researchers at SecureWorks previously uncovered that 500 million dogecoins were mined off of Taiwanese storage hardware.

Hypponen added that while the internet has brought us much good, “sometimes it does feel like we’ve built a monster.”

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