The Microsoft Threat Intelligent Center recently posted an article on how using default passwords and outdated firmware could expose your network. Hackers working for the Russian government have been using printers, video decoders, and other so-called Internet-of-things devices as a beachhead to penetrate targeted computer networks.
“These devices became points of ingress from which the actor established a presence on the network and continued looking for further access,” officials with the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center wrote in a post. “Once the actor had succe
ssfully established access to the network, a simple network scan to look for other insecure devices allowed them to discover and move across the network in search of higher-privileged accounts that would grant access to higher-value data.”
After gaining access to each of the IoT devices, the actor ran tcpdump to sniff network traffic on local subnets. They were also seen enumerating administrative groups to attempt further exploitation. As the actor moved from one device to another, they would drop a simple shell script to establish persistence on the network which allowed extended access to continue hunting. Analysis of network traffic showed the devices were also communicating with an external command and control (C2) server.
Microsoft researchers discovered the attacks in April (2019), when a voice-over-IP phone, an office printer, and a video decoder in multiple customer locations were communicating with servers belonging to “Strontium,” a Russian government hacking group better known as Fancy Bear or APT28. In two cases, the passwords for the devices were the easily guessable default ones they shipped with. In the third instance, the device was running an old firmware version with a known vulnerability.
“While much of the industry focuses on the threats of hardware implants, we can see in this example that adversaries are happy to exploit simpler configuration and security issues to achieve their objectives,” the report noted. “These simple attacks taking advantage of weak device management are likely to expand as more IoT devices are deployed in corporate environments.”
Please ensure your device passwords are changed from the manufacturer default and periodically ensure the device firmware is the current manufacturers recommended version.