Nokia cautioned there had been a sharp increase in attacks taking advantage of insecure IoT devices in the last 12 months, with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) traffic targeted at disrupting telecommunications network services.

In the latest Nokia Threat Intelligence Report, the vendor estimated the number of IoT devices engaged in so-called botnet-driven DDoS attacks was around 1 million as of the end of Q1 compared with 200,000 in the previous year.

Nokia noted a “large number of insecure IoT devices” were being used to cause end-user disruption to services, citing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and a “growing increase in profit-driven hacking collectives operated by cybercriminals” as potential reasons.

“This sharp increase, also supplemented by the increased use of IoT devices by consumers around the world, was first noticed at the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict but has since spread to other parts of the world,” it added.

Nokia claimed IoT device-related bots are currently responsible for around 40 per cent of global DDoS traffic, with many of the billions of units in circulation having lax security protection.

Away from IoT, Nokia noted an increase in trojan malware targeting personal banking on mobile devices.

Nokia SVP of business applications Hamdy Farid said the report’s findings “underline both the scale and sophistication of cybercriminal activity today”.

“A single botnet DDoS attack can involve hundreds of thousands of IoT devices, representing a significant threat to networks globally.”

“To mitigate the risks, it’s essential that service providers, vendors, and regulators work to develop more robust 5G network security measures…as well as robust security practices and awareness at all company levels”.