So, My Network got Hacked

Table of Contents

TL;DR; Seperate your data / laptop / desktops from your IoT devices.

Came home from a conference, you know, one of those I'm not allowed to name.

Suspicion

Anyway, I was working the next day and suddenly, I had no internet access. It seemed odd, as my Sonos continued to play music from SomaFM. So, I went to another machine and it had access, just my work machine. I rebooted my work Macintosh, and still no access to the network. Weird.

Later that evening, I was using my home Mac, and it too developed this issue, yet my TV was still streaming. Great… Gremlins!

Initial Mitigation

So, the first thing I did was go into System Preferences‚Ķ > Security & Privacy > Firewall > Firewall Options and set Enable stealth mode. I set most apps to “Block incoming connections” on the Principle of least Privilige. I did this on all my Mac's. Surprisingly, this apparently fixed things.

Being Proactive

I had been meaning to move all my IoT devices to a seperate netowork (before the FBI recommened it and it was clear I could no longer procrastinate. My OnHub has a guest network and I could have just used that and been happy, but it really wouldn't have told me the kinds of things I was interested in. So, I purchased a Synology Router RT2600ac. It supports 2FA login - which, given the circumstances seemed like a win. More importantly, it had Threat detection and prevention an incredibly useful feature that would tell me whats happening on my network. Synology's Threat Prevention uses ET Lab's (aka ProofPoint) rules that it downloads every night.

Spliting the WiFi space

I moved all of my computers to their own network, after reimaging them. Taking a risk that my printer wasn't infected and moved that as well.

The original network became my “legacy” network and I also created an IoT network for new devices.

Mobile Devices

Most of my IoT devices need to be controled from a device on the same network as them. So, I keep my phone, even though it holds the most info on me on the IoT network - I replace it before software updates cease. My iPad, I move from network to network, but it mostly stays on the “data” network as it works well with my Macs.

Monitoring

I've set the RT2600 to automatically drop harmful packets, and to notify me when it detects bad behavior. Well, that happens a lot more that I'd like to say. I knew that from years ago when I had my own mail server on the net - but in 20 years things had gotten really bad. It seems like every 5 minutes something was happening. After a week, I turned the knobs down to only see really bad things.

About once every few days, or so, I find a network trojan originating form my legacy network. (it's stopped by the router).

Legacy Equipment

I have a >7 year old Smart TV which is no longer updated by it's manufacturer - a bit of a problem. I also have a NordicTrak with a fancy screen that has an embedded processor using a well known ancient OS. Along with maybe 20 other smart devices. I've gone in to the devices that I no longer require use WiFi, and changed them to stop using it. Limiting what they do, and making sure that they don't have access to my main network.

Closing Thoughts

The FBI's recommendation to have at least two seperate networks: one for IoT devices, and another for your Data holding devices is a good one.

I really like the Synlogy Router's Threat Prevention system - I've long believed that one of the easiest places for us to protect the internet is at the router. Find signatures of bad things and stop them from being routed. (it's not the only mitigation, just an easy one)

Les Vogel avatar
Les Vogel
Les Vogel works as a Staff Engineer in developer relations for Google Cloud.
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