October 19, 2018

New Security Woes for Popular IoT Protocols

Researchers at Black Hat Europe will detail denial-of-service and other flaws in MQTT, CoAP machine-to-machine communications protocols that imperil industrial and other IoT networks online.

Security researcher Federico Maggi had been collecting data – some of it sensitive in nature – from hundreds of thousands of Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) servers he found sitting wide open on the public Internet via Shodan. "I would probe them and listen for 10 seconds or so, and just collect data from them," he says.

He found data on sensors and other devices sitting in manufacturing and automotive networks, for instance, as well as typical consumer Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets.

The majority of data, Maggi says, came from consumer devices and sensors or was data he couldn’t identify. "There was a good amount of data from factories, and I was able to find data coming from pretty expensive industrial machines, including a robot," he says.

MQTT and CoAP basically serve as the backbone of IoT and industrial IoT communications. As Maggi and Quarta discovered, the protocols often are deployed in devices insecurely, leaking sensitive information such as device details, user credentials, and network configuration information. The pair of researchers will present details and data from their findings in December at Black Hat Europe in London.

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