Intrusion Into the Internet of Things

Shelves lined with devices in the Internet of Things, all potential subjects of intrusion.

Welcome to the Internet of Things Intrusion team’s first blog. The Internet of Things—or IoT for short—is a fancy term for the interconnected devices that make up our world. Many consumers know these devices as “smart” devices. For example, your smartphone can connect to your smart fridge to let you know when you’re, say, out of Hood Simply Smart Milk.

The Internet of Things connects all elements of the user’s life. This connectivity comes at a cost, however; more often than not, security is an afterthought to functionality in these devices. In our modern age of frequent, high level hacking, these devices make easy targets for even a small time hacker. This project will be focusing on these flaws, looking at common IoT devices from the perspective of anyone with a couple of hours, an internet connection, and malicious intent.

The Intrusion Begins

Like every project here at the LCDI, we spent the majority of our first month researching. We began by looking into a bunch of different IoT devices, like the Google Home, Amazon Echo, Nest Protect, and Ring Video Doorbell. With many IoT devices available to us at the Leahy Center, we limited our preliminary research to a few devices, split into two categories: popular devices and devices with known flaws. Picking devices that are easy to break into serves as a good way to understand the process, while using the most popular devices will allow us to understand the weaknesses that put the most people at risk. After we put together our list, we decided to begin work with our first device: the TPLink Kasa Cam.

Our First Intrusion

Photo of live footage taken from TPLink Camera once set up

Partly due to our inexperience in IoT intrusion, the feat of breaking into the TPLink camera proved quite formidable. We found our first obstacle when connecting the camera to a network for setup. It took us a week to get a proper test network that we could connect it to. That week, however, was not wasted; we used the time to research our target in greater depth, including different ways to break into it.

After getting our test network up and running, we were able to set up the TPLink without issue; very user friendly! After set up was complete, we were ready to attempt to break in to the camera. This is where we hit a snag. To get access to the camera, you first need to connect to the camera’s IP address. We tried many different methods to get the IP address of the TPLink camera, including a Wireshark capture, googling for default IP’s, and searching through device settings, but no luck. On top of this, TPLink’s website is very unclear about how to find this information. That said, the month isn’t over, so we will use the rest of the time we have to keep trying. 

Conclusion

We have gained a lot of knowledge on IoT vulnerability in our first month here. Our plan for next month is to continue onto new devices. The information we learned from our first trial has helped us create a simple, efficient approach to each device. For each device, we will begin with research into both the device itself and ways to break in. From there, we will create an account to use with the device, set it up, and generate data. This data will vary based on the device—the data generated on an IP camera will be different than the data generated on a smart smoke alarm. Finally, we will attempt to put our intrusion methods into action and see if they work. Make sure to read our team’s next blog to stay up to date on the project!

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