That warning was issued Thursday at the Hack In The Box conference in Amsterdam by researchers Sergey Shekyan and Artem Harutyunyan from security firm Qualys. According to the researchers' "To Watch Or To Be Watched: Turning your surveillance camera against you" presentation -- the Foscam firmware vulnerability allows an attacker to dump the entire memory, with no credentials, from the IP cameras. That memory dump would reveal, in plain text, the username and password for accessing the device, as well as any stored credentials for authenticating to Wi-Fi routers, websites, email accounts or FTP sites.
The unauthenticated attacker can access to the entire filesystem and steal Web & Wi-Fi credentials, according to a bug report posted to Neohapis. Attackers would also have access to whatever video and audio was being recorded by the camera.
[ Lawmakers who think legislation can thwart hackers who target financial institutions don't understand how the attacks work. Read Laws Can't Save Banks From DDoS Attacks. ]
According to a related vulnerability report released by the Department of Homeland Security on March 15, the Foscam IP cameras -- prior to firmware version 126.96.36.199 -- contain a directory traversal vulnerability in their Web interface that "allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files via a .. [dot dot] in the URI," referring to a uniform resource indicator such as "http."
The vulnerable cameras are manufactured by Hong Kong-based Foscam Electronics. While Foscam has released updated firmware that patches the directory traversal vulnerability, 99% of Internet-connected wireless Foscam IP cameras are still using the old firmware, according to the Qualys researchers.
Furthermore, the directory traversal flaw wasn't the only way of exploiting wireless Foscam cameras, they said. For example, a query using the Shodan search engine -- which will reveal Internet-connected devices with embedded Web servers -- revealed about 100,000 Internet-connected Foscam cameras, including 16,000 in the United States. On average, 20% of all Foscam cameras the researchers studied were configured to allow for a remote login using a username of "admin" and no password.
Even when devices do have a password, they remain vulnerable to brute-force login attacks. The researchers said that that free tools such as THC-Hydra, described as a "very fast network logon cracker," would make short work of Foscam cameras sporting default credentials or weak passwords.
Foscam cameras are also vulnerable to a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attack, in which a malicious link -- sent via email -- could be used to add an additional administrator account to a targeted device.
Beyond gaining access to the devices and compromising stored credentials, attackers could rewrite the code running on the devices, which run the Linux-based operating system uClinux, to make them proxies for launching malware or distributed-denial-of-service attacks against local or external networks, the Qualys researchers warned.
According to the researchers' presentation, the best way to secure the wireless Foscam cameras is to not expose the camera to [the] outside network. If that can't be done, they recommend using firewall or intrusion prevention system rules to limit connections to the devices to a list of authorized IP addresses, as well as throttling bandwidth rates for anything that connects to the devices to slow any brute-force password-guessing attack. Finally, they recommend overriding any response headers issued by the device, which would make them harder to identify using Shodan and other Web-server-search tools.
People are your most vulnerable endpoint. Make sure your security strategy addresses that fact. Also in the new, all-digital How Hackers Fool Your Employees issue of Dark Reading: Effective security doesn't mean stopping all attackers. (Free registration required.)