Difficult for Thee, But Not for Me: Measuring the Difficulty and User Experience of Remediating Persistent IoT Malware [article]

Elsa Rodríguez, Max Fukkink, Simon Parkin, Michel van Eeten, Carlos Gañán
2022 arXiv   pre-print
Consumer IoT devices may suffer malware attacks, and be recruited into botnets or worse. There is evidence that generic advice to device owners to address IoT malware can be successful, but this does not account for emerging forms of persistent IoT malware. Less is known about persistent malware, which resides on persistent storage, requiring targeted manual effort to remove it. This paper presents a field study on the removal of persistent IoT malware by consumers. We partnered with an ISP to
more » ... ontrast remediation times of 760 customers across three malware categories: Windows malware, non-persistent IoT malware, and persistent IoT malware. We also contacted ISP customers identified as having persistent IoT malware on their network-attached storage devices, specifically QSnatch. We found that persistent IoT malware exhibits a mean infection duration many times higher than Windows or Mirai malware; QSnatch has a survival probability of 30% after 180 days, whereby most if not all other observed malware types have been removed. For interviewed device users, QSnatch infections lasted longer, so are apparently more difficult to get rid of, yet participants did not report experiencing difficulty in following notification instructions. We see two factors driving this paradoxical finding: First, most users reported having high technical competency. Also, we found evidence of planning behavior for these tasks and the need for multiple notifications. Our findings demonstrate the critical nature of interventions from outside for persistent malware, since automatic scan of an AV tool or a power cycle, like we are used to for Windows malware and Mirai infections, will not solve persistent IoT malware infections.
arXiv:2203.01683v1 fatcat:nldja52yqzdyji6tgx36do5b7a