Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT/Embedded Security

8/10/2018
09:35 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

Smart Cities Need to Get Smarter About Cybersecurity

At the 2018 Black Hat conference, IBM's X-Force Red and Threatcare found that smart cities are as vulnerable to attack as any enterprise network.

As the widespread networking of computers in the last few decades gave rise to new kinds of security problems, the trend to make cities networked is starting to show how attackers may be able to cause disruption in them.

At a presentation at this week's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Threatcare and IBM X-Force Red's Jen Savage, Mauro Paredes and Daniel Crowley talked about the different investigations they have been conducting over the past few months that look at the vulnerabilities in smart cities.

The systems the researchers looked at ranged from those detecting and attempting to mitigate traffic congestion, to disaster detection and response, to remote control of industry and public utilities.

(Source: Flickr)
(Source: Flickr)

The researchers found that many of the same vulnerabilities that plague networked systems were present in the networked cities.

"We found 17 zero-day vulnerabilities in four smart city systems -- eight of which are critical in severity," the researchers announced at Black Hat. In response, an ICS-CERTadvisory has been issued to address the vulnerabilities.

The Big Blue team reports that all the vendors were responsive to their disclosers and have since issued patches and software updates to address the flaws.

However, there were still some surprises in the research.

"While we were prepared to dig deep to find vulnerabilities," the researchers noted, "our initial testing yielded some of the most common security issues, such as default passwords, authentication bypass and SQL injections, making us realize that smart cities are already exposed to old-school threats that should not be part of any smart environment."

For example, there were four instances of critical, pre-authentication shell injection flaws found in Meshlium which is Libelium's wireless sensor network. Libelium is a wireless sensor network hardware manufacturer.

Echelon routers and servers were also investigated. Here, the researchers found two critical flaws that allow authentication bypass, default credentials, plaintext passwords, and the lack of encrypted communications.

Battle's vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) Hub product, which takes data from traffic signal controllers and talks to connected vehicles, was also exaimed.

After finding the vulnerabilities, the researchers also found that hundreds of each vendor's devices that were exposed to remote access on the Internet. The group discerned this by use of readily available search engines such as Shodan or Censys.

Researchers discovered a European country that was using vulnerable devices for radiation detection, as well as a major US city, which was using them for traffic monitoring. So, these vulnerabilities had the potential for real-world exposure of the areas.


Zero in on the most attractive 5G NR deployment strategies, and take a look ahead to later technology developments and service innovations. Join us for the Deployment Strategies for 5G NR breakfast workshop in LA at MWCA on September 12. Register now to learn from and network with industry experts – communications service providers get in free!

The researchers think some basic mediation techniques can help:

  • First, implement IP address restrictions to connect to the smart city systems
  • Second, leverage basic application scanning tools that can help identify simple flaws
  • Safer password and API key practices are obviously necessary
  • Security incident and event management (SIEM) tools will also help to identify suspicious traffic

But someone needs to be observing what is going on in the first place. The research dramatically shows the means by which interconnected cities can be manipulated by attackers. A frontline defense has to be established by those who are using the technology.

Related posts:

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World
Download the Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World report to understand how security leaders are maintaining pace with pandemic-related challenges, and where there is room for improvement.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-21991
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
The vCenter Server contains a local privilege escalation vulnerability due to the way it handles session tokens. A malicious actor with non-administrative user access on vCenter Server host may exploit this issue to escalate privileges to Administrator on the vSphere Client (HTML5) or vCenter Server...
CVE-2021-21992
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
The vCenter Server contains a denial-of-service vulnerability due to improper XML entity parsing. A malicious actor with non-administrative user access to the vCenter Server vSphere Client (HTML5) or vCenter Server vSphere Web Client (FLEX/Flash) may exploit this issue to create a denial-of-service ...
CVE-2021-34647
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
The Ninja Forms WordPress plugin is vulnerable to sensitive information disclosure via the bulk_export_submissions function found in the ~/includes/Routes/Submissions.php file, in versions up to and including 3.5.7. This allows authenticated attackers to export all Ninja Forms submissions data via t...
CVE-2021-34648
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
The Ninja Forms WordPress plugin is vulnerable to arbitrary email sending via the trigger_email_action function found in the ~/includes/Routes/Submissions.php file, in versions up to and including 3.5.7. This allows authenticated attackers to send arbitrary emails from the affected server via the /n...
CVE-2021-40684
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
Talend ESB Runtime in all versions from 5.1 to 7.3.1-R2021-09, 7.2.1-R2021-09, 7.1.1-R2021-09, has an unauthenticated Jolokia HTTP endpoint which allows remote access to the JMX of the runtime container, which would allow an attacker the ability to read or modify the container or software running in...