Remotely Controlling Automobiles Via Insecure Dongles

Automobiles are getting smarter and smarter. Nowadays many vehicles run on a mostly drive-by-wire system, meaning that a majority of the controls are electronically controlled. We’re not just talking about the window or seat adjustment controls, but also the instrument cluster, steering, brakes, and accelerator. These systems can make the driving experience better, but they also introduce an interesting avenue of attack. If the entire car is controlled by a computer, then what if an attacker were to gain control of that computer? You may think that’s nothing to worry about, because an attacker would have no way to remotely access your vehicle’s computer system. It turns out this isn’t so hard after all. Two recent research projects have shown that some ODBII dongles are very susceptible to attack.

The first was an attack on a device called Zubie. Zubie is a dongle that you can purchase to plug into your vehicle’s ODBII diagnostic port. The device can monitor sensor data from your vehicle and them perform logging and reporting back to your smart phone. It also includes a built-in GPRS modem to connect back to the Zubie cloud. One of the first things the Argus Security research team noticed when dissecting the Zubie was that it included what appeared to be a diagnostic port inside the ODBII connector.

Online documentation showed the researchers that this was a +2.8V UART serial port. They were able to communicate over this port with a computer with minimal effort. Once connected, they were presented with an AT command interface with no authentication. Next, the team decompiled all of the Python pyo files to get the original scripts. After reading through these, they were able to reverse engineer the communication protocols used for communication between the Zubie and the cloud. One particularly interesting finding was that the device was open for firmware updates every time it checked in with the cloud.

The team then setup a rogue cellular tower to perform a man in the middle attack against the Zubie. This allowed them to control the DNS address associated with the Zubie cloud. The Zubie then connected to the team’s own server and downloaded a fake update crafted by the research team. This acted as a trojan horse, which allowed the team to control various aspects of the vehicle remotely via the cellular connection. Functions included tracking the vehicle’s location, unlocking hte doors, and manipulating the instrument cluster. All of this can be done from anywhere in the world as long as the vehicle has a cellular signal.

A separate but similar project was also recently discussed by [Corey Thuen] at the S4x15 security conference. He didn’t attack the Zubie, but it was a similar device. If you are a Progressive insurance customer, you may know that the company offers a device that monitors your driving habits via the ODBII port called SnapShot. In exchange for you providing this data, the company may offer you lower rates. This device also has a cellular modem to upload data back to Progressive.

After some research, [Thuen] found that there were multiple security flaws in Progressive’s tracker. For one, the firmware is neither signed nor validated. On top of that, the system does not authenticate to the cellular network, or even encrypt its Internet traffic. This leaves the system wide open for a man in the middle attack. In fact, [Thuen] mentions that the system can be hacked by using a rogue cellular radio tower, just like the researchers did with the Zubie. [Thuen] didn’t take his research this far, but he likely doesn’t have too in order to prove his point.

The first research team provided their findings to Zubie who have supposedly fixed some of the issues. Progressive has made a statement that they hadn’t heard anything from [Thuen], but they would be happy to listen to his findings. There are far more devices on the market that perform these same functions. These are just two examples that have very similar security flaws. With that in mind, it’s very likely that others have similar issues as well. Hopefully with findings like this made public, these companies will start to take security more seriously before it turns into a big problem.

[Thanks Ellery]

Yik Yak MITM Hack (Give the Dog a Bone)

Yik Yak is growing in popularity lately. If you are unfamiliar with Yik Yak, here’s the run down. It’s kind of like Twitter, but your messages are only shared with people who are currently within a few miles of you. Also, your account is supposed to be totally anonymous. When you combine anonymity and location, you get some interesting results. The app seems to be most popular in schools. The anonymity allows users to post their honest thoughts without fear of scrutiny.

[Sanford Moskowitz] decided to do some digging into Yik Yak’s authentication system. He wanted to see just how secure this “anonymous” app really is. As it turns out, not as much as one would hope. The primary vulnerability is that Yik Yak authenticates users based solely on a user ID. There are no passwords. If you know the user’s ID number, it’s game over.

The first thing [Sanford] looked for was an encrypted connection to try to sniff out User ID’s. It turned out that Yik Yak does actually encrypt the connection to its own servers, at least for the iPhone app. Not to worry, mobile apps always connect to other services for things like ad networks, user tracking, etc. Yik Yak happens to make a call to an analytics tool called Flurry every time the app is fired. Flurry needs a way to track the users for Yik Yak, so of course the Yik Yak App tells Flurry the user’s ID. What other information would the anonymous app have to send?

Unfortunately, Flurry disables HTTPS by default, so this initial communication is in plain text. That means that even though Yik Yak’s own communications are protected, the User ID is still exposed and vulnerable. [Sanford] has published a shell script to make it easy to sniff out these user ID’s if you are on the same network as the user.

Once you have the user ID, you can take complete control over the account. [Sanford] has also published scripts to make this part simple. The scripts will allow you to print out every single message a user has posted. He also describes a method to alter the Yik Yak installation on a rooted iPhone so that the app runs under the victim’s user ID. This gives you full access as if you owned the account yourself.

Oh, there’s another problem too. The Android app is programmed to ignore bad SSL certificates. This means that any script kiddie can perform a simple man in the middle attack with a fake SSL certificate and the app will still function. It doesn’t even throw a warning to the user. This just allows for another method to steal a user ID.

So now you have control over some poor user’s account but at least they are still anonymous, right? That depends. The Yik Yak app itself appears to keep anonymity, but by analyzing the traffic coming from the client IP address can make it trivial to identify a person. First of all, [Sanford] mentions that a host name can be a dead giveaway. A host named “Joe’s iPhone” might be a pretty big clue. Other than that, looking out for user names and information from other unencrypted sites is easy enough, and that would likely give you everything you need to identify someone. Keep this in mind the next time you post something “anonymously” to the Internet.

[via Reddit]

Wifi Pineapple project uses updated hardware for man-in-the-middle attacks

We’ve seen this small, cheap, and powerful WiFi router before. But this time it’s up to no good. [Andy] used a TP-Link WR703N to build an upgraded WiFi Pineapple hacking tool.

A WiFi Pineapple is a device spawned years ago by the Hak5 team (here’s a clip showing off the device). It uses a WiFi router that will answer to any SSID request. Basically if your computer or smart phone has an AP SSID saved and broadcasts a request to connect the pineapple will pretend to be that device and start the handshake. This provides the chance to sniff all the data passing through in a classic man-in-the-middle attack.

[Andy] is recreating the device but at a rock bottom price. He picked up this router for about $20 and added an $8 USB drive to it. The only other thing you would need is a power source and a way to hide the hardware. The code used in the Hak5 version is available for download and that’s what he worked on after flashing OpenWrt to the device.

[Thanks Midnite]

Rooting a Motorola Actv (Android wristwatch)

[Chris’] family made the mistake of giving him a hackable Christmas gift. We’d bet they didn’t see much of him for the rest of the day as he set about rooting this Android wristwatch.

This thing has some pretty powerful hardware under the hood. It’s sporting an OMAP3 processor running at 600 MHz along with 256 MB of RAM. [Chris] needed to get his hands on a firmware image in order to look for security holes. He found a way to spoof the update application in order to intercept an upgrade image from the Internet.

He dumped the firmware locations and got to work searching for a way to exploit the device. Details are a bit scarce about want exactly he did, but you can download his modified image, letting you root your own Motorola Actv using the Android Debug Bridge.

We’ve embedded a demo video after the break. The OS is pretty snappy on the tiny device. We’re not sure what will come of this functionality, but we assume [Chris] was really only interested in the challenge of rooting process itself.

Continue reading “Rooting a Motorola Actv (Android wristwatch)”

Hidden device distorts news on wireless networks, brews beer, is time machine

We covered the Newstweek, a wall-wart sized box that injects fake news stories over public WiFi connections last February, but now there’s a great walk through and it seems our doubts about this project were disproved.

The Newstweek uses ARP spoofing to change the text displayed on several news sites. After doing some field research, placing and configuring the device, there’s a simple web frontend that configures the man-in-the-middle hack. Right now, the Newstweek only allows a few news sites to be targeted, but the team is working on allowing anyone to add their own targets.

Aside from the relatively simple build, we’re wondering about the social engineering aspects of the Newstweek. In our previous coverage of the Newstweek, we couldn’t decide if this was a social commentary art project, or a real device. It looks like it’s both now. Would hackaday readers succumb to injecting, “President Bacon addressed the nation last night…” or would you do the responsible thing and put the “(D)s” and “(R)s” in their proper places?

The Newstweek team posted a video of a short demonstration, but check out the video after the break for the “incredibly geeky and thorough demo.”

Continue reading “Hidden device distorts news on wireless networks, brews beer, is time machine”

USB man-in-the-middle adapter

The module works as a pass through, providing access to data and power lines for a USB device. [BadWolf] built it in order to sniff out communications between peripherals and the Universal Serial Bus. For now it just provides access to the different signals, but we think there’s quite a bit of usefulness in that. First off, the power rail is mapped out to a jumper, making it dead simple to monitor the voltage stability or patch in a multimeter to get feedback on current consumption. But you can also see in the foreground that a pin socket makes it easy to tap into the board using jumper wires. We think it would be a great breadboard adapter for USB work that would continue being useful after you’ve populated your first PCB for the prototype.

[BadWolf] has other plans in store for it though. He wants to intercept and decipher the communications happening on the data lines. In the video after the break he mentions the possibility of using a Bus Pirate for this (we have our doubts about that) but plans to start his testing with an STM32 discovery kit. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

Plug-in module lies about news at coffee shops. Real or Fake?

[Mike] sent in a tip about Newstweek, and we’re turning to our readers to tell us if this is real or if we’re being trolled. The link he sent us points to a well-written news-ish article about a device that plugs into the wall near an open WiFi hotspot and performs something of a man-in-the-middle attack on devices connected to the access point. The article describes the device above as it observes, then spoofs the ARP table of the wireless network in order to inject fake news stories in pages you are reading. Apparently once it boots, the small box phones home for commands from its maker over a TOR connection.

The box reminds us of the Sheevaplug so it’s not the hardware that makes us question the possibility of the device. But look at the Linux terminal screen readout. It shows a prompt with the word ‘newstweek’ in it. That’s the address of the site the article is hosted on, giving us a strong sense of being trolled.

What do you think, real or fake? Let us know (and why you think that) in the comments.