Entries Tagged "loopholes"

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Security Risks from Remote-Controlled Smart Devices

We’re starting to see a proliferation of smart devices that can be controlled from your phone. The security risk is, of course, that anyone can control them from their phones. Like this Japanese smart toilet:

The toilet, manufactured by Japanese firm Lixil, is controlled via an Android app called My Satis.

But a hardware flaw means any phone with the app could activate any of the toilets, researchers say.

The toilet uses bluetooth to receive instructions via the app, but the Pin code for every model is hardwired to be four zeros (0000), meaning that it cannot be reset and can be activated by any phone with the My Satis app, a report by Trustwave’s Spiderlabs information security experts reveals.

This particular attack requires Bluetooth connectivity and doesn’t work over the Internet, but many other similar attacks will. And because these devices send to have their code in firmware, a lot of them won’t be patchable. My guess is that the toilet’s manufacturer will ignore it.

On the other end of your home, a smart TV protocol is vulnerable to attack:

The attack uses the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) standard that is widely supported in smart television sets sold in Europe.

The HbbTV system was designed to help broadcasters exploit the internet connection of a smart TV to add extra information to programmes or so advertisers can do a better job of targeting viewers.

But Yossef Oren and Angelos Keromytis, from the Network Security Lab, at Columbia University, have found a way to hijack HbbTV using a cheap antenna and carefully crafted broadcast messages.

The attacker could impersonate the user to the TV provider, websites, and so on. This attack also doesn’t use the Internet, but instead a nearby antenna. And in this case, we know that the manufacturers are going to ignore it:

Mr Oren said the standards body that oversaw HbbTV had been told about the security loophole. However, he added, the body did not think the threat from the attack was serious enough to require a re-write of the technology’s security.

Posted on June 10, 2014 at 8:24 AMView Comments

The Idaho Loophole

Brian C. Kalt (2005), “The Perfect Crime,” Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 93, No. 2.

Abstract: This article argues that there is a 50-square-mile swath of Idaho in which one can commit felonies with impunity. This is because of the intersection of a poorly drafted statute with a clear but neglected constitutional provision: the Sixth Amendment’s Vicinage Clause. Although lesser criminal charges and civil liability still loom, the remaining possibility of criminals going free over a needless technical failure by Congress is difficult to stomach. No criminal defendant has ever broached the subject, let alone faced the numerous (though unconvincing) counterarguments. This shows that vicinage is not taken seriously by lawyers or judges. Still, Congress should close the Idaho loophole, not pretend it does not exist.

Posted on February 1, 2012 at 6:05 AMView Comments

Yet Another Way to Evade TSA's Full-Body Scanners

Last night, at the Third EPIC Champion of Freedom Awards Dinner, we gave an award to Susie Castillo, whose blog post and video of her treatment in the hands of the TSA has inspired thousands to complain about the agency and their treatment of travellers.

Sitting with her at dinner, I learned yet another way to evade the TSA’s full body scanners: carry a small pet. She regularly travels with her small dog, and has found that she is always directed away from the full-body scanners and through the magnetometers. I suspect that the difficulty of keeping the dog still is why TSA makes that determination. (The carrier, of course, goes through the x-ray machine.)

I’m not sure what the TSA is going to do now that I’ve publicized this unpublished exception. Those of you who travel with small pets: please let me know what happens.

(For those of you who are appalled that I could give the terrorists ideas on how to evade the full-body scanners, there are already so many ways that one more can’t hurt.)

Posted on June 14, 2011 at 7:54 AMView Comments

Bypassing Airport Checkpoints

From a reader:

I always get a giggle from reading about TSA security procedures, because of what I go through during my occasional job at an airport. I repair commercial kitchen cooking equipment—restaurants etc. On occasion I have to go to restaurants inside a nearby airport terminal to repair equipment, sometimes needing a return trip with parts.

So here’s the scene. I park inside the parking garage area in my company truck. I carry my 30 pound toolbox and a large cardboard box, about 2 1/2 feet long with parts for a broiler to be repaired. I go to a restaurant outside the security zone and pick up an “escort”, typically a kid of maybe 25 years old. I obviously can’t go through the TSA checkpoint, as they’d have absolute conniptions about my tools and large parts. So, without ever having to show ID, or even looking at what I may have in the large cardboard box or my large metal toolbox, the escort takes me down an elevator, out onto the tarmac, past waiting planes pulled up to the terminal, back inside the terminal building and coming out on the other side of the TSA checkpoint, then off to the restaurant to be repaired. Then, when I’m done, they escort my out the normal way, past the TSA screening area, with my toolbox and large cardboard box in hand. No one bats an eye as to what might have transpired or how my stuff magically appeared on the “secure” side and is now leaving right in front of them

And people wonder why I call it all security theater?

Posted on December 18, 2008 at 10:19 AMView Comments

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.