Security researchers have warned that hackers can steal data or cause physical damage, due to certain types of inherently insecure connected devices.
Cybercriminals are increasingly giving attention to the hacking Internet of Things devices as connected products propagate and there’s one smart device, in particular, that is catching hackers’ attention.
While routers remain the top target for IoT-based cyberattacks, there’s a lot of discussion in underground forums about compromising internet-connected gas pumps.
The researchers at Trend Micro carried out an examination of dark web marketplaces in five different languages namely Russian, English, Portuguese, Arabic, and Spanish.
Among these, the Russian market is the most sophisticated of the underground communities, in which cyber criminals are keen to find ways to make money and exploit.
Ways of Exploitation
One way this is already being used by hackers selling modified manipulated smart meters. Russian government legislation recently mandated all electricity meters in the country should be replaced by online smart meters.
Hackers are already modifying the firmware of these devices to trick them into recording lower readings, that will give users lower bills.
Further, users of Russian underground forums are also seeking information on how to hack gas pumps, with tutorials on the inner workings of commercial pumps available, including those with programmable logic controllers.
These controllers are often used in factories and other industrial environments and to help with managing equipment remotely.
Researchers also noted that posts on gas pump hacking also appear frequently in Portuguese language forums, even featuring an in-depth, step-by-step technical tutorial on ways to hack gas pumps for Brazilian users. A user in a separate case demonstrates how they were able to remotely change the name of a pump.
While these attacks might be discussed to receive resources at a cheaper price it’s entirely possible that gas pumps could be compromised for more destructive purposes.
There’s the possibility that internet-facing gas pumps could likely be roped into botnets for use in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, with attackers taking advantage of them to help overload online services.
A previous Trend Micro report highlights how remotely accessible and unsecured gas pumps could be abused by hackers to bring about errors or physical damage and the rise in interest in gas pumps could mean more such attacks.
Other threats include reconnaissance to find out the delivery schedule, extortion that involves blocking the owner’s access in exchange for a certain sum, and even undermining the gas pump by modifying tank limits so that it spills.
The report also warns that it’s an initial stage for IoT attacks and with billions of more devices expected to enter homes and workplaces over the coming years cybercriminals will increasingly turn to IoT.
Talking about the ways to prevent gas pumps and similar devices from attacks if they’re connected to the internet, make sure that devices have their default passwords changed, so brute-force attacks aren’t as effective.
Operators of these devices should look to make use of features such as VPNs to encrypt the traffic, and mutual authentication, through which both the device and the user verify one other before continuing.
The software must continuously be updated and patched as well, and operators should be able to disable manually in any case of a compromised machine.