Security firm: WarezTheRemote flaw could turn a Comcast remote into a listening device

Security firm: WarezTheRemote flaw could turn a Comcast remote into a listening device


Could your cable Television unit spy on you? Vulnerability located and patched in Comcast Television remote.

Security researchers at Guardicore reverse-engineered the firmware update approach for a popular Comcast remote to change the machine into a spying device.

Impression: Guardicore

Safety organization Guardicore reverse-engineered the firmware update method for Comcast’s XR11 remote to get regulate of the product. Scientists interrupted the process to flip the voice-handle component of the remote into a listening machine.

When the malicious firmware update was in spot, researchers used a 16dBi antenna and ended up able to pay attention to discussions inside of a house from about 65 feet absent.

The WarezTheRemote assault could have affected the 18 million controllers in use about the US. Immediately after Guardicore disclosed the vulnerability to Comcast, the enterprise developed a correct that was deployed to all units by the end of September. 

SEE: Social engineering: A cheat sheet for business enterprise pros (totally free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The XR11 has a microphone button to make it possible for customers to function the established-top box with voice commands. The distant communicates with the established-major box in excess of a radio frequency (RF) as opposed to an infra-pink relationship. As the researchers wrote in the study paper on the vulnerability, “RF permits make contact with with the remote from afar, which will make for a much larger attack floor than a remote handle would if not have, and the recording functionality can make it a higher-value concentrate on.”

Guardicore explained the vulnerability in a new paper posted Wednesday, “WarezTheRemote: Turning remote controls into listening units.” Guardicore made use of a male-in-the-center assault to exploit remote’s RF interaction with the set-major box and in excess of-the-air firmware updates. By pushing a malicious firmware image back through the distant, attackers could have used the remote to constantly record audio without necessitating any person interaction.

Guardicore researchers put the stability threat in context:

“… with so a lot of of us operating from dwelling, a residence recording system is a credible usually means to snoop on trade techniques and confidential information. … The actually harmful equipment are the types with extra insidious connections to our households, our networks, and our personal facts.”

How the assault could have worked

The hijacking of the remote took some work but the vulnerabilities ended up not hard to consider benefit of. The XR11 distant queries the set-top box for new firmware each individual 24 hrs. The scientists took advantage of this question to set up firmware that authorized recording. Guardicore experienced to reverse-engineer the remote’s firmware and the software on the set-top box. 

The vulnerability was in the way the remote handled incoming RF packets.The stability for the packets was set on a packet-by-packet foundation. The problem was that the first XR11 firmware did not confirm that responses to encrypted requests ended up encrypted as well. An attacker inside of RF vary could have responded to outgoing requests from the distant in plaintext, the distant would have recognized the destructive requests. 

In addition to figuring out the firmware update system, scientists uncovered the code that handles the recording button. The reverse-engineering was a delicate system:

“Due to the fact we did not have access to the remote’s source code, building our patch to the firmware was not at all straightforward–we had to carefully edit the firmware binary without the need of breaking everything. By strategically, selecting in which and how to transform the initial firmware picture, we were being in a position to make all of our modifications to the normal distant management behavior in the house of just a handful of dozen bytes.”

Guardicore implemented a full proof-of-idea destructive firmware update using this strategy. 

Performing with Comcast

Guardicore knowledgeable Comcast about the vulnerability in late April. The corporation labored with Guardicore to resolve the challenge around the up coming a number of months. Comcast commenced screening a patch in June and sent the patch to all gadgets by the finish of September. The cable enterprise delivered this assertion for the Guardicore report on the protection vulnerability:

“Technologists for each Comcast and Guardicore confirmed that Comcast’s remediation not only prevents the assault described in this paper but also presents additional safety towards potential attempts to supply unsigned firmware to the X1 Voice Distant. Based on our extensive evaluate of this difficulty, which bundled Guardicore’s investigation and our technological innovation ecosystem, we do not feel this problem was ever utilised towards any Comcast shopper.”

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