Refrigerator Busted Sending Spam Emails In Massive Cyberattack

01/23/2014 07:10 pm ET | Updated Jan 24, 2014

Your fridge is trying to tell you something.

Not that you're out of milk, or that you left the door open (again), but that it has the inside line on some primo male enhancement pills.

A refrigerator was discovered among a "botnet" of more than 100,000 Internet-connected devices that sent upward of 750,000 malicious emails between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6. So-called "smart" appliances, like multimedia centers, TVs -- and yes, a fridge -- were behind more than 25 percent of the volume, Internet security firm Proofpoint reports.

It's believed to be the first cyberattack involving the "Internet of Things" -- a term given to a vast range of devices that operate independently of conventional computers. Despite the humorous imagery of a fridge as an ice-cold criminal, experts warn devices like unprotected smart fridges could be a magnet for criminals in the future.

"Botnets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse" said David Knight, general manager of Proofpoint's Information Security division, in a release. "Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur. Enterprises may find distributed attacks increasing as more and more of these devices come on-line and attackers find additional ways to exploit them."

Proofpoint declined to specify which make and model of refrigerator had been compromised, but Knight did tell the Los Angeles Times he believes the burden of securing devices is the responsibility of the manufacturers making the appliances, not the consumers buying them.

"I don't think a consumer should be expected to know and fix if their refrigerator has been compromised," Knight told the outlet. "The industry is going to have to do a better job of securing these devices."

But don't blame your fridge for its bad behavior -- it was only trying to fit in with the cool kids.

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