Feeds

When Dreamcasts attack

Inside-out network hacking with toys

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Blackhat

LAS VEGAS -- Cyberpunks will be toting cheap game consoles on their utility belts this fall if they follow the lead of a pair of white hat hackers who demonstrated Wednesday how to turn the defunct Sega Dreamcast into a disposable attack box designed to be dropped like a bug on corporate networks during covert black bag jobs.

The "phone home" technique presented by Aaron Higbee of Foundstone and Chris Davis from RedSiren Technologies at the Black Hat Briefings here takes advantage of the fact that firewalls effective in blocking entry into a private network, are generally permissive in allowing connections the other way around.

Higbee and Davis perform penetration tests, and developed their game box cum attack tool after finding themselves more than once with physical access to a client's facilities -- posing as an employee in once case, crawling through a drop ceiling in another -- but without a way to leverage that access into remote control of the company's network.

"It's not that hard to get into an organization for one or two minutes," said Higbee.

They chose the Dreamcast for its small size, availability of an Ethernet adapter, and affordability -- the console was discontinued last year, and now sells used for under $100 on eBay. Loaded with custom Linux-based software and covertly plugged into a spare network port under a desk or above a ceiling, the harmless-looking toy becomes the enemy within, probing the company firewall for a way out to Internet.

The box cycles through the ports used for common services like SSH, Web surfing, and e-mail, which tend to be permitted by firewall configurations. Failing that, it tries getting "ping" packets out to the Internet, and finally looks for proxy servers bridging the network to the outside world.

Whatever it finds, it uses to establish a tunnel through the firewall to the intruder's home machine. "Most organizations focus on the perimeter," said Davis. "Once you get through the outside, there's a soft chewy center."

The pair suggested some techniques for mitigating the risk of dropped-in hardware -- restricting the LAN to pre-assigned MAC addresses, for one -- but said that ultimately, there may be little an organization can do to prevent an attacker with physical access from setting up a covert channel home.

The pair plan to release their Dreamcast software on their website next month, along with similar code they developed for the handheld Compaq iPAQ, and a bootable CD ROM designed to be slipped into print servers and other kiosk PCs.

While useful, they note that the other platforms lack at least one of the Dreamcast's virtues. "It's innocuous. It looks like a toy," said Davis. "If you bring it into a company, they're going to go, 'Wow, look at the toy!'"

© 2002 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.