Rapid7 Reveals Telepresence Robot IoT Vulnerabilities

The Double Robotics Telepresence Robot was found to have three different vulnerabilities that could have exposed users to risk; two of the issues have already been patched.

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Once again, the security risks associated with internet of things (IoT) connected devices are being scrutinized, as Rapid7 has publicly disclosed multiple vulnerabilities in Double Robotics devices.

Double Robotics, a vendor of mobile telepresence robots that help to enable people to communicate in an innovative way, has already patched two out of the three security issues that Rapid7 has responsibly disclosed. Rapid7 first reported the vulnerabilities to Double Robotics on Jan. 9. To its credit, Double Robotics moved rapidly to address the vulnerabilities and had patches out on Jan. 16.

"Even though these issues are fixed, we disclose issues like these primarily so other developers out there can learn about common gotchas that might be relevant to their projects," Deral Heiland, IoT research lead at Rapid7, told eWEEK.

From a timing perspective, given that Double Robotics patched the issues in January, Rapid7 could have disclosed what it found sooner. However, Heiland said that even though his company could disclose vulnerabilities as soon as a vendor issues fixes, he doesn't want to get in a situation where vendors that are fast and responsive are penalized with an early disclosure.

"We like to stick to the 60-day clock we talk about in our disclosure policy as closely as we can, patches or not," Heiland said.

Rapid7 identified one of the flaws as an unauthenticated access to data vulnerability. Heiland explained that physical access to devices is needed to enumerate the data from the cloud APIs in this exploit. He added that remote attackers can have full access to the data in the cloud if they know where to look.

The second issue identified by Rapid7 is a static user session management vulnerability that, if compromised, could have enabled an attacker to take control of a Double Telepresence Robot without the need for a user account or password. Heiland said this vulnerability assumes some access to information, specifically the "Robot Key," which can be obtained locally on the robot or through a man in the middle attack.

"With the Robot Key, an unauthenticated user could query the cloud API and return the user keys for all authorized users allowed to remote control the robot," he said. "A malicious actor can then use those user keys as session cookies within the robot remote control application, allowing full remote control of the robot."

Double Robotics has patched both the static user session management issue and the unauthenticated access vulnerability. The third issue—identified by Rapid7 as a weak Bluetooth pairing vulnerability—however has not been patched as Double Robotics doesn't see it as a major risk factor. According to Rapid7's disclosure, the pairing process between the mobile application for the Double Telepresence Robot and the robot drive unit does not require the user to know the challenge PIN.

"This can be abused with any iPad device running the Double Robot application," Heiland said. "The user would need to be within close proximity, but a malicious actor could easily use a large antenna to expand that range out significantly."

The issue of weak Bluetooth pairing is not uncommon with many different types of IoT devices that Rapid7 has tested. In this case, Heiland set up the Double Robot application on an iPad and paired it up to the device in his possession, which allowed him to register the robot a second time under his name. There was no need to validate who he was or whether he owned the robot.

While the weak Bluetooth pairing flaw is a common issue, mitigating risk is also relatively straightforward. Heiland suggests that users make sure that the attached mobile control device is not powered off. If it is powered off, also power off the device’s drive unit.

"Only one device can pair to the drive unit, so it's important to ensure that it is the correct iPad control device that remains paired," Heiland said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.