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The 5 Coolest Hacks Of 2012

Nothing was sacred -- the nation's airspace, home power meters, videoconferences, and, in an ironic twist, popular cybercrime tools
5. Videoconference Bugs The Boardroom
Renowned researcher and Metasploit creator HD Moore late last year scanned a snapshot of addressable Internet space in search of high-end videoconferencing systems that might be found in corporate boardrooms. What he found was unnerving: a quarter of a million systems that spoke H.323, the protocol used by videoconferencing systems.

He then used a Metasploit module to call up each server and to connect for just enough time to get the public-handshake packets before disconnecting. "Any machine that accepted a call was set to auto-answer," Moore says. "It was fairly easy to figure out who was vulnerable because if they weren't vulnerable, then they would not have picked up the call."

Moore and Rapid 7 CEO Mike Tuchen were then able to pinpoint some 5,000 videoconferencing systems that auto-answered the calls. That means those systems could be abused by an external hacker who could surreptitiously join the videoconference, record video, and read email from a laptop screen of one of the attendees -- something Rapid 7 simulated in its lab.

"What made this interesting is that you are only going to find places that can afford $25,000 videoconferencing systems, so it's a pretty self-selecting set of targets," Moore says.

Moore and his fellow researchers found mostly Polycom videoconferencing systems, most of which ship with auto-answer on by default.

[Evil insulin pumps and laptop batteries, war texting, and a 'tween' hacker captured our imagination -- and our attention. See The 7 Coolest Hacks Of 2011.]

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