Defcon 16: Pacemaker-B-Gone

A collaboration of various medical researchers in the academic field has led to proof that pacemakers can be remotely hacked with simple and accessible equipment. [Kevin Fu], an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, led the team. [Kevin] first tried to get documentation from the manufacturers, believing they would support the effort, but they were not interested in helping. They were forced to get access to an old pacemaker and reverse engineer it. They found that the communication protocol used to remotely program the device was unencrypted. They then used a GNU radio system to find access to some of the machine’s reprogrammable functions, including accessing patient data and even turning it off.

Although this was only done with one particular pacemaker, it proves the concept and should be taken seriously by the medical companies who produce these devices. If you are interested in the technical aspects, check out the paper the team released in May disclosing the methods.

Fun with Barbie karaoke machines


[Peter Edwards] at Casper Electronics built a modular synth and integrated it with the Barbie karaoke machines we saw at Notacon last April. The complete unit consists of 25 modules which are wired together using banana cables. He’s using this homebrew step sequencer to control the bent karaoke machines which then feed into the rest of the synthesizer. If you’d like to bend your own barbie karaoke machine, [Peter] was kind enough to post schematics and instructions for his bends.

Defcon 16: MIT Boston transit presentation gagged


[Zack Anderson], [RJ Ryan], and [Alessandro Chiesa] were sued by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority for an alleged violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after copies of their presentation slides were circulated at Defcon 16. The slides give an eye widening glimpse into the massive security holes present in the Boston subway system. There are at least 4 major security flaws in the subway, which allowed them to get free subway rides by finding unlocked, back door routes into the subway, spoofing magnetic and RFID cards, and attacking the MTBA’s network. Judge Douglas P. Woodlock has issued a gag order, stopping the trio from giving the presentation at Defcon or disclosing sensitive information for ten days. However, the MIT school newspaper, The Tech, has published a PDF of the slides online. The research culminated in the trio warcarting the MTBA’s headquarters and being driven off by police.

Black Hat 2008: Google Gadgets insecurity


Black Hat presenters [Robert "RSnake" Hansen], CEO of SecTheory, and [Tom Stracener], security analyst at Cenzic, criticized Google in their presentation “Xploiting Google Gadgets”. [Hansen] and [Stracener] say that there’s currently no way for Google to confirm whether Google Gadget creations contain malicious content or not; this leaves the application vulnerable to a wide range of hacking ugliness such as data poisoning, worms, and theft of data. [Hansen] himself isn’t exactly on the friendliest terms with Google. He’s got a bit of a contentious history and he claims that Google has threatened legal action against him. Nevertheless, if what was presented is true and accurate, then Google has a huge security issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Google has not yet commented on the situation.

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