Feeds

When Dreamcasts attack

Inside-out network hacking with toys

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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.

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.