Backdoors, Zero-Day Flaws Found in IoT Cameras Made by Sony, Others

Security researchers discover significant vulnerabilities in two separate lines of surveillance video cameras that could allow them to be hacked or made part of an internet of things botnet, researchers say.

Video Camera Security Flaws 2

Two security researchers working separately are warning consumers and enterprises that network-connected video cameras from different manufacturers may not be secure, after researchers found vulnerabilities and backdoor code in the devices that could allow attackers to create internet-of-things botnets or spy on the users.

In a research note published on Dec. 6, security firm SEC Consult stated that 80 models of cameras sold under the Sony brand have a backdoor that could allow attackers to take complete control of the devices. In a separate study published the same day, researchers for security firm Cybereason detailed their discovery of two zero-day vulnerabilities in white-box video cameras sold under various brand names on sites such as Amazon and eBay.

Hundreds of thousands of devices connected directly to the Internet are vulnerable, and even more may be accessible through a peer-to-peer service, Amit Serper, principal security researcher with Cybereason, told eWEEK.

“In about six hours, we came up with two zero-days that allow us to get the password for the camera, no matter how complex it was,” he said. “I’ve reversed engineered hundreds of these types of devices, and this is the worst that I’ve ever seen.”

Serper and Cybereason have attempted to contact the manufacturer, but have not had any luck and there is no fix for the camera. Cybereason recommends that users dispose of the devices instead of continuing to use them.

The discoveries are the latest evidence highlighting the lack of security in connected devices. Security researchers have warned the makers of internet-of-things devices that security has to be a greater priority. Numerous studies have found vulnerabilities in popular network-connected consumer devices that could leak information or, in the worst case, allow an attacker to take control of the devices.

The state of IoT security, however, has taken on much greater meaning recently, after massive denial-of-service attacks that have emanated from botnets comprised of connected devices. In September, security researcher and journalist Brian Krebs was the target of a massive denial-of-service attack produced by a program, named Mirai, which had infected a large number of digital video recorders and home routers. In October, a similar attack disrupted domain-service provider Dyn and major internet services, such as Twitter and GitHub.

The backdoor in Sony’s video cameras took the form of a hard-coded password for the root—or super-user—account on the devices.

“We believe that this backdoor was introduced by Sony developers on purpose—maybe as a way to debug the device during development or factory functional testing—and not an ‘unauthorized third party’ like in other cases, (such as) the Juniper ScreenOS Backdoor,” SEC Consult stated in its research note.

“We have asked Sony some questions regarding the nature of the backdoor, intended purpose, when it was introduced and how it was fixed, but they did not answer.”

SEC Consult notified Sony of the issues, and the company has released updated firmware for the affected models, the security firm stated.

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos is an award-winning freelance journalist who has covered information security, cybercrime and technology's impact on society for almost two decades. A former research engineer, he's...