Tag Archives: appsec

IoT Hall-of-Shame Facebook Page

Greetings and Happy New Year. It’s early in the month and we’ve already had our first reported IoT Hall-of-Shame entry, as you know if you follow that page or my twitter @codecurmudgeon. For those who live inside Facebook I’ve decided to make your life easier by adding a Facebook page for the Internet-of-Things IoT Hall-of-Shame as well. That way you can just follow it and it will show up in your Facebook feed.

“Things” are being hacked at a furious pace – some even call it the “Internet of Evil Things”. It’s amazing how often I find out about a new hack every single day. Is your TV going to spy on you? Is it easy to hack your phone? Is the stoplight on your corner vulnerable? Keep up to date on what’s happening.

Go check it out, like the page, follow it for the latest IoT Hall-of-Shame updates, and tell your friends. And when you hear about any IoT devices getting hacked please let me know!

Hacking: Medical Devices

Hospital buildingYou have control over your own body, right? Well, scary scenarios in the healthcare industry are increasing in awareness. In the past, with the growth of technology, hacking was just for computers, but now it is expanding to other devices including medical ones. This is not technically “cyber crime”, but can easily turn into it when it falls into the wrong hands so I’m going to cover it anyways.

Internet of Things (IoT): “refers to scenarios where network connectivity and computing capability extends to objects, sensors and everyday items not normally considered computers, allowing these devices to generate, exchange and consume data with minimal human intervention. There is, however, no single, universal definition” (Internet Society, 2015).

The IoT is an important aspect in the healthcare industry (recently the term Internet of Healthcare Things IoHT was coined by medical field personnel). Examples include; heart rate monitors, pacemakers, medicine drips, MRI, etc. all that connect to the Internet and record information. As most of us know, objects that are connected to the Internet or have computer-type technology can be hacked. One example of this was two men in Austria hacked their morphine pump while admitted to the hospital to boost the dosage (Sarvestani, 2014). This resulted in one going into respiratory arrest and both men becoming addicted to morphine (Sarvestani, 2014). They were able to achieve this by retrieving the machine’s control codes online, this information typically can be found in the device manuals that are online for user reference.Hospira LifeCare PCA pump

A more streamlined, dangerous version of the morphine pump hack is what is known as MEDJACK. MEDJACK is a “medical device hijack” (Carman, 2015). How is this done? Don’t these hospitals have firewalls and preventative measures for stuff like this? Yes and no. While the network itself and it’s computers are protected with firewall and other security the devices themselves are not secured. According to Ashley Carman at SC Magazine “attackers maneuver though healthcare systems’ main networks by initially exploiting outdated and unpatched medical devices, such as an X-ray scanner or blood gas analyzer. They build backdoors into the systems through these internet-connected devices” (2015).

Another way that this is done is through a tool known as Shodan that is “used to scan open ports on the internet is often used by security researchers to uncover critical exposed infrastructure that should be better protected” (Murdock, 2016). According to a Kaspersky researcher in Jason Murdock’s article “[Shodan] can find out about the hardware and software connected [to the internet] and if you know, for example, what feedback an MRI or laser or cardiology device gives when you connect to its port, you can go to Shodan and find hundreds of these devices and if you know a vulnerability you can hack all of them” (2016).

istan medical mannequinUnfortunately, it gets worse. Pacemakers, including ones that are fully installed, are now on the list of hackable equipment. Students at University of South Alabama hacked into iStan, a simulated human being device (Storm, 2015). IStan has “internal robotics that mimic human cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological systems. When iStan bleeds, his blood pressure, heart rate and other clinical signs change automatically.” iStan, which is used by USA’s College of Nursing, breaths, bleeds from two locations, cries, secretes bodily fluids, speaks, groans, wheezes, gags, gasps, coughs and mumbles” (Storm, 2015) allowing it to fully respond as a human being. These students hacked into the iStan and were able to launch a brute force attack and denial of service (DoS) attacks which interfered with the devices ability to function, which in turn “killed” iStan (Storm, 2015). Another source discussing pacemaker hacking is Tarun Wadhwa on Forbes. Wadhwa discussed how pacemakers are vulnerable:

“Implanted devices have been around for decades, but only in the last few years have these devices become virtually accessible.  While they allow for doctors to collect valuable data, many of these devices were distributed without any type of encryption or defensive mechanisms in place.  Unlike a regular electronic device that can be loaded with new firmware, medical devices are embedded inside the body and require surgery for “full” updates.  One of the greatest constraints to adding additional security features is the very limited amount of battery power available” (2012)

Thankfully though, there has been no recorded incident of intended harm to another individual (and a very small amount of incidents of harm to oneself) through medical device hacking. The basics? If you can, do some research into the devices being used in your hospital room to see what vulnerabilities are available on the web (through how-to’s, videos, device manuals, etc.) and if at all possible, stay healthy to avoid the hospital- I wish this for everyone!


[Editors note: Maybe it SHOULD though… induce fear that is. -The Code Curmudgeon]


Carman, A. (2014, June 4). ‘MEDJACK’ tactic allows cyber criminals to enter healthcare networks undetected. SC Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.scmagazine.com/trapx-profiles-medjack-threat/article/418811/

Internet Society. (2015, October). The Internet of Things: An overview. InternetSociety.org. Retrieved from https://www.internetsociety.org/sites/default/files/ISOC-IoT-Overview-20151014_0.pdf

Murdock, J. (2016, February 15). How a security researcher easily hacked a hospital and its medical devices. International Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ho w-security-researcher-easily-hacked-hospital-its-medical-devices-1544002

Sarvestani, A. (2014, August 15). Hospital patient hacks his own morphine pump. MassDevice.com On Call. Retrieved from http://www.massdevice.com/hospital-patient-hacks-his-own-morphine-pump-massdevicecom-call/

Storm, D. (2015, September 8). Researchers hack a pacemaker, kill a man(nequin). Computer World. Retrieved from http://www.computerworld.com/article/2981527/cybercri me-hacking/researchers-hack-a-pacemaker-kill-a-man-nequin.html

Wadhwa, T. (2012, December 6). Yes, you can hack a pacemaker (and other medical devices too). Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/singularity/2012/12/06/yes-you-can-hack-a-pacemaker-and-other-medical-devices-too/#5ab6b78313e0

Cybersecurity SQL Injection Irony

letters on cork board spelling ironyIt’s been a funny week for the SQL Injection Hall-of-Shame. As those who follow the Hall-of-shame know, there’s a pretty steady trickle of new incidents published regarding SQLi. It’s usually a few every month, not as many as are currently going into my new IoT Hall-of-Shame but still very regular.

So I was surprised that this week we have two new entries and they’re both cybersecurity companies. It’s partially funny, partially sad and partially scary.

First up is Staminus. They’re a DDoS protection company and seem to have a very good product. I spend more time on the SwSec and AppSec side of things but the kind of work they do is also important. However when you’re a security company, it’s just funny to people when you get hacked.

In this case Staminus was not only vulnerable to sql injection, but they were also doing other bad cybersecurity practices. In particular they seem to be storing customer credit card data unencrypted. One tenet of security is that you can never stop all attacks. You have to prepare for the inevitable day when someone breaches your system. That’s why it’s important that we have strong encryption, complaints from the FBI notwithstanding.

Following the attack the hackers actually left a funny message. The published a document called Tips when running a security company and detailed all the weaknesses they discovered due to bad security practices. In their defense, security expert Brian Krebs noted that anti-DDoS companies are regular targets for attackers.

Also in the news this week was well-known computer security company Symantec. They have a large share of the enterprise computer security market with their Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) product. SEP allows companies to manage the security software for all of their computers from a central management console (SEPM) and this was the tool that has the vulnerabilities.

As it turns out there are two vulnerabilities in SEPM, one is cross-site request forgery and one is SQL injection. While Symantec has called this a routine advisory, it was serious enough for US-CERT to issue an update advisory telling people to patch their SEPM software. US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) is the government body in the US that keeps track of cybersecurity issues.

Yes, cybersecurity issues can and do happen to everyone. But we can all get at least a bit of a laugh when companies who’s only job is security are the targets. This is especially true when the issues involved are simple and preventable like SQL injection.

Software Cybersecurity Podcast

My friend Kevin Greene is devoted to improving the state of software security in the United States and he’s passionate about it. Kevin now has a regular podcast at FedScoop on cybersecurity insights and perspectives and it’s well worth listening to.

Choose Software Security

We recently got together and chatted about the state of cybersecurity today. In particular we talked about the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and my IoT Hall-of-Shame as well as static analysis in general. Kevin was instrumental in getting the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP) setup and funded and we talked about our participation there as well.

“Probably if we did a really great job [with software security], the rest of cybersecurity would be a whole lot easier.”

So have some fun and learn something useful about software security at the same time. Here’s where you can listen: FedScoop Cybersecurity Insights & Perspectives. If you have other topics you’d like to cover, let he and I know in the comments or on Twitter.

For more security info check out the security resources page and a few of these books can help.
Embedded Systems Security: Practical Methods for Safe and Secure Software and Systems Development,

Platform Embedded Security Technology Revealed: Safeguarding the Future of Computing with Intel Embedded Security and Management Engine,

Software Test Attacks to Break Mobile and Embedded Devices (Chapman & Hall/CRC Innovations in Software Engineering and Software Development Series)