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Vulnerabilities in IoT Devices Have Doubled Since 2013

A follow-up study into the security of IoT devices has revealed more than twice the number of vulnerabilities as were detected six years ago. 

In the 2013 study SOHOpelessly Broken 1.0, researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) highlighted 52 vulnerabilities across 13 SOHO wireless routers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices made by vendors including Asus and Belkin.

An examination of routers and NAS products by ISE published yesterday has flagged 125 common vulnerabilities or exposures (CVEs). The vulnerabilities captured by the new research, dubbed SOHOpelessly Broken 2.0, could affect millions of IoT devices.

For their latest study, ISE tested 13 contemporary IoT devices created by a range of manufacturers. Modern versions of several devices tested in the original 2013 study were also studied to determine whether manufacturers had upped their security game.

The results were fairly disappointing, with researchers able to obtain remote root-level access to 12 of the 13 devices tested. Among the weaknesses identified were buffer overflow issues, command injection security flaws, and cross-site scripting (XSS) errors.

"We were expecting to find issues in the devices; however, the number and severity of the issues exceeded those expectations. Our first reaction to a lot of our findings was: 'It can't really be this easy, right?'" said ISE researcher Joshua Meyer. 

Conducting the study has changed how Meyer uses IoT devices. He said: "I will be more selective of any IoT devices I purchase for personal use. I am also more aware of the features provided by my devices and disable all of the ones that aren't necessary to its security."

After completing the study, ISE sent vulnerability reports and proof-of-concept (PoC) codes to affected vendors. While the majority of companies acknowledged the reports, TOTOLINK and Buffalo have not yet responded.  

"Netgear and Drobo only responded to us after we continuously messaged them about the critical security issues in their products," said Rick Ramgattie, lead researcher at ISE.

Asked if any plans were afoot for a SOHOpelessly Broken 3.0, Ramgattie said the team is looking into starting a new IoT/Embedded Device research project mid-2020.

Ramgattie elaborated: "We aren't sure if it is going to be the same format as SOHO 1.0 and SOHO 2.0. We might mix things up and pick a smaller set of manufacturers and narrow in on new attack surfaces we have been wanting to dive into for a long time. 

"We might also research more enterprise devices, different protocols, and more complex data-processing workflows."

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