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Researchers have uncovered a rash of ongoing attacks designed to damage routers and other Internet-connected appliances so badly that they become effectively inoperable.

PDoS attack bots (short for "permanent denial-of-service") scan the Internet for Linux-based routers, bridges, or similar Internet-connected devices that require only factory-default passwords to grant remote administrator access. Once the bots find a vulnerable target, they run a series of highly debilitating commands that wipe all the files stored on the device, corrupt the device's storage, and sever its Internet connection. Given the cost and time required to repair the damage, the device is effectively destroyed, or bricked, from the perspective of the typical consumer.

Over a four-day span last month, researchers from security firm Radware detected roughly 2,250 PDoS attempts on devices they made available in a specially constructed honeypot. The attacks came from two separate botnets—dubbed BrickerBot.1 and BrickerBot.2—with nodes for the first located all around the world. BrickerBot.1 eventually went silent, but even now the more destructive BrickerBot.2 attempts a log-on to one of the Radware-operated honeypot devices roughly once every two hours. The bots brick real-world devices that have the telnet protocol enabled and are protected by default passwords, with no clear sign to the owner of what happened or why.

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Enlarge / Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with the prime minister of Finland, Juha Sipila, during an official visit in Helsinki, Finland, on April 5, 2017. President Xi is traveling to the US today. (credit: ESA MOILANEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Researchers at Fidelis Security have revealed data suggesting Chinese state-funded actors engaged in acts of industrial espionage against a number of major US corporations, including the targeting of employees involved in lobbying the Trump administration on trade policy. The reveal comes just as China's president, Xi Jinping, begins his visit with President Donald Trump.

Fidelis' post shares details of a malware campaign that caused a number of websites—including that of the National Foreign Trade Council—to deliver a JavaScript-based reconnaissance tool called "Scanbox" to site visitors. A similar effort, this one coming from a fake site pretending to belong to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, was also detected.

Scanbox has been previously detected in a number of espionage campaigns, including one recently targeting a political site focused on China's Uighur minority. The forensic details of this new campaign led Fidelis researchers to believe it was conducted by Chinese government or government-funded attackers associated with the threat group known by researchers as APT10, or "Stone Panda."

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