IoT
12/9/2015
04:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Sea Craft Voyage Data Systems Vulnerable To Tampering, Spying

Remote attackers could snoop on or corrupt the systems that collect and store radar images, vessels' position and speed, and audio recorded in the ships' bridge or engine room.

The researcher who has discovered security weaknesses in satellite communications is now uncovering vulnerabilities in voyage data recorder systems (VDRs) used by cargo ships, cruise ships, and other sea craft. Remote, unauthenticated attackers might exploit the weaknesses to spy on crew's conversations and tamper with "black box" data investigators would use to discover the cause of an accident -- including radar images, the vessel's position and speed, and audio recorded in the ship's bridge or engine room.

Ruben Santamarta, principal security consultant for IOActive, wrote today about his findings from static analysis and QEMU emulation of the Furumu VR-3000 VDR firmware and software.

Although the VDR is the closest thing seacraft have to an aircraft's "black box," it's very different in terms of access controls. An aircraft's system is intended to be tamper-proof, inaccessible by the pilot and the rest of the crew. Conversely, says Santamarta in an interview with Dark Reading, "It [a VDR] shouldn't be used by everybody but technically the VDR belongs to the vessel's owner. So this basically means that the captain and certain members of the crew have to know how to operate it in case of an emergency. It may be locked but still accessible for authorized personnel."

In his blog today, Santamarta notes two prior examples of VDR tampering. In February 2012, two Indian fishermen were shot by Italian marines who said they thought the fishermen were pirates. The incident caused a diplomatic conflict and an investigation into whether what the Italian marines said was true. The VDR recordings on the Italian craft could have substantiated or discredited the marines' claims, but the Indian Times reported "a preliminary probe into the incident found that the VDR was tampered with" and the records corrupted.

The following month, there was a hit-and-run incident off the southern coast of India. Again, VDR files were tampered with, apparently because a member of the crew inserted a pen drive into the device, leading to rewriting of files and loss of voice data.

As Santamarta writes:

From a security perspective, it seems clear VDRs pose a really interesting target. If you either want to spy on a vessel’s activities or destroy sensitive data that may put your crew in a difficult position, VDRs are the key.

Unfortunately, according to Santmarta, in his blog, "almost the entire design [of the VDRs] should be considered insecure." Altogether they contributed to cause a vulnerability he found in the Furumu VR-3000's firmware upgrade process that allows remote, unauthenticated attackers to execute arbitrary commands with root privileges. 

"The design allows unauthenticated users to install a malicious firmware due to multiple weaknesses," says Santamarta, "weak encryption, unsigned firmware files, privileged endpoints and services exposed."

Although the vulnerability can be exploited by "remote" attackers, it is not directly via the Internet. "VDRs are not connected to the Internet (at least, they shouldn't)," says Santamarta. "The remote vector is related to the network onboard. Also, if this network is not properly segmented this may pose an attack vector for malware located in crew laptops or any other personal device."

Santamarta recommends that any data collected from these devices for forensic purposes should be carefully evaluated for signs of tampering.

"There is no standard way to store data [on VDRs] as the only requirement from the [International Maritime Organization] is that manufacturers should provide software to extract and playback the data," says Santamarta. "So each model should be analyzed separately."

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Meet 'Bro': The Best-Kept Secret of Network Security
Greg Bell, CEO, Corelight,  6/14/2018
Four Faces of Fraud: Identity, 'Fake' Identity, Ransomware & Digital
David Shefter, Chief Technology Officer at Ziften Technologies,  6/14/2018
Containerized Apps: An 8-Point Security Checklist
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  6/14/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-5236
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
Symantec Endpoint Protection prior to 14 RU1 MP1 or 12.1 RU6 MP10 may be susceptible to a race condition (or race hazard). This type of issue occurs in software where the output is dependent on the sequence or timing of other uncontrollable events.
CVE-2018-5237
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
Symantec Endpoint Protection prior to 14 RU1 MP1 or 12.1 RU6 MP10 could be susceptible to a privilege escalation vulnerability, which is a type of issue that allows a user to gain elevated access to resources that are normally protected at lower access levels.
CVE-2018-6211
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
On D-Link DIR-620 devices with a certain customized (by ISP) variant of firmware 1.0.3, 1.0.37, 1.3.1, 1.3.3, 1.3.7, 1.4.0, and 2.0.22, OS command injection is possible as a result of incorrect processing of the res_buf parameter to index.cgi.
CVE-2018-6212
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
On D-Link DIR-620 devices with a certain customized (by ISP) variant of firmware 1.0.3, 1.0.37, 1.3.1, 1.3.3, 1.3.7, 1.4.0, and 2.0.22, a reflected Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attack is possible as a result of missed filtration for special characters in the "Search" field and incorrect proc...
CVE-2018-6213
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
In the web server on D-Link DIR-620 devices with a certain customized (by ISP) variant of firmware 1.0.3, 1.0.37, 1.3.1, 1.3.3, 1.3.7, 1.4.0, and 2.0.22, there is a hardcoded password of anonymous for the admin account.