Hacking connected internet-of-things (IoT) devices such as network-attached storage (NAS), home automation systems, and routers may seem far afield from researching industrial control systems. But that isn’t necessarily the case, according to Claroty Team82 Director of Research Sharon Brizinov.
Brizinov competed in last week’s Pwn2Own Toronto hacking contest where he successfully found and exploited zero-day vulnerabilities in two vendors’ NAS products and a popular small office and home router. In this episode of the Aperture Podcast, Brizinov explains that under the covers, IoT and OT aren’t all that dissimilar.
“They’re running on embedded hardware. It’s almost the same CPU, the same specs, and resources,” Brizinov said. “It’s just the software that’s running on these embedded devices is a bit different in terms of what tasks are being given priority and what applications are being written to those devices.”
IoT devices also expose a greater attack surface, largely as an outcome of enhanced user features, Brizinov said.
“If you take a modern router or NAS … vendors want to give their users remote connectivity. Not only do I have a router, but I can also control it remotely,” he said. “Vendors are adding more features that modern users are asking them for. More analytics, more web interfaces, more remote connectivity, more file storage services. Because of the greater amount of features are adding to modern IoT devices, the attack surface on these devices also grows and we can attack the device from different angles.”
Brizinov also discusses the importance and relevance of hacking contests to vendors, what happens behind the scenes once a bug is successfully exploited, and the preparation that goes into competing at Pwn2Own.