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Botnet Security The Internet IT

Botnet Uses Default Passwords To Conduct "Internet Census 2012" 222

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the neat-hack dept.
An anonymous reader writes "By using four different login combinations on the default Telnet port (root/root, admin/admin, root/[no password], and admin/[no password]), an anonymous researcher was able to log into (and upload a binary to) 'several hundred thousand unprotected devices' and run 'a super fast distributed port scanner' to scan the enitre IPv4 address space." From the report: "While playing around with the Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) we discovered an amazing number of open embedded devices on the Internet. Many of them are based on Linux and allow login to standard BusyBox with empty or default credentials. We used these devices to build a distributed port scanner to scan all IPv4 addresses. These scans include service probes for the most common ports, ICMP ping, reverse DNS and SYN scans. We analyzed some of the data to get an estimation of the IP address usage. All data gathered during our research is released into the public domain for further study."
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Botnet Uses Default Passwords To Conduct "Internet Census 2012"

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  • So this is what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:07AM (#43224585)

    267 months in federal prison?

    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:10AM (#43224605) Journal

      The FBI only cares if you embarass a major campaign contributor. e.g. AT&T is the largest campaign contributor in the country, beating out even Goldman Sachs.

      • BitTorrent (Score:2, Redundant)

        by kramer2718 (598033)

        The FBI only cares if you embarass a major campaign contributor. e.g. AT&T is the largest campaign contributor in the country, beating out even Goldman Sachs.

        Or if you use BitTorrent for completely lawful purposes.

      • by moeinvt (851793)

        "The FBI only cares if you embarass a major campaign contributor..."

        Unauthorized access to a government computer is a crime, even if you don't do any damage. The degree to which they will go after you and any resulting penalty will depend on whether or not the government likes you.

        • "The FBI only cares if you embarass a major campaign contributor..."

          Unauthorized access to a government computer is a crime, even if you don't do any damage. The degree to which they will go after you and any resulting penalty will depend on whether or not the government likes you.

          J-walking is a crime. Just because it's illegal doesn't mean you will be prosecuted for it.

      • by bhlowe (1803290)
        AT&T Is not the largest campaign contributor.. Act Blue, Nation Educational Association, and American Fedn employees unions all spend more. AT&T is the biggest "non-partisan" campaign contributor. Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php [opensecrets.org] The Republican's complain of union money... the Democrats complain of the Koch brothers and the NRA..
    • Re:So this is what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by juancn (596002) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @12:00PM (#43225105) Homepage
      He did 420000 intrusions, it's probably a lot more than that. In NY it would be up to 420000 years just for unauthorized computer use I believe.

      Still, really cool hack (in the classic sense), it is conceptually similar to a Von Neumman probe [wikipedia.org].

  • All data gathered during our research is released into the public domain for further study

    More like: All data gathered during our research is released into the public domain for further getting the researchers arrested for unauthorized access and usage of computers systems. It adds up to almost 1 million years in prison if it's under current US law (I used that high school teacher who loaded a folding @ home calculating screen saver onto all school computers as a rough basis for the math. He was on the hook for like 300 years in prison).

    • by ls671 (1122017) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:32AM (#43224811) Homepage

      So he is the guy responsible for all these logs on my firewall. I am glad he is over with his research. Those nasty log lines and the alerts I get should now go away!

      Mar 19 14:08:29 myhost sshd[15477]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 33203 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:26 myhost sshd[15475]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 60725 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:24 myhost sshd[15473]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 59984 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:22 myhost sshd[15471]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 59254 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:19 myhost sshd[15469]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 58527 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:17 myhost sshd[15465]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 57790 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:16 myhost sshd[15463]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 57082 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:13 myhost sshd[15461]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 56363 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:11 myhost sshd[15459]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 55647 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:09 myhost sshd[15457]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 54922 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:06 myhost sshd[15455]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 54195 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:04 myhost sshd[15453]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 53487 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:01 myhost sshd[15449]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 52734 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:07:59 myhost sshd[15447]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 52018 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:07:57 myhost sshd[15445]: Failed password for root from 58.247.50.59 port 49218 ssh2
      Mar 19 14:08:38 myhost kernel: CONNECT LIMIT: IN=eth2 OUT= MAC=00:0a:cd:1c:43:7d:00:26:cb:70:f0:4f:08:00 SRC=58.247.50.59 DST=X.X.X.X LEN=60 TOS=0x00 PREC=0x00 TTL=46 ID=12700 DF PROTO=TCP SPT=33971 DPT=22 WINDOW=14600 RES=0x00 SYN URGP=0
      Mar 19 14:08:32 myhost kernel: CONNECT LIMIT: IN=eth2 OUT= MAC=00:0a:cd:1c:43:7d:00:26:cb:70:f0:4f:08:00 SRC=58.247.50.59 DST=X.X.X.X LEN=60 TOS=0x00 PREC=0x00 TTL=46 ID=12699 DF PROTO=TCP SPT=33971 DPT=22 WINDOW=14600 RES=0x00 SYN URGP=0
      Mar 19 14:08:29 myhost kernel: CONNECT LIMIT: IN=eth2 OUT= MAC=00:0a:cd:1c:43:7d:00:26:cb:70:f0:4f:08:00 SRC=58.247.50.59 DST=X.X.X.X LEN=60 TOS=0x00 PREC=0x00 TTL=46 ID=12698 DF PROTO=TCP SPT=33971 DPT=22 WINDOW=14600 RES=0x00 SYN URGP=0

      • Re:correction (Score:4, Informative)

        by butalearner (1235200) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:51AM (#43225007)
        Why no fail2ban [fail2ban.org] or DenyHosts [sourceforge.net]? I suppose my sshd doesn't allow root login so stuff like that showing up on my logs is not a big concern anyway.
      • Re:correction (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @12:02PM (#43225121) Homepage

        After 1 attempt for ROOT I blackhole the ip address for 90 days Nobody should ever try to log in as root, so any login attempt should black hole that IP forever. 3 minutes of script writing is all it takes to do that.

        • by Lost Race (681080)

          99.9% of the time those are (1) someone goofing around, not a real threat, or (2) drive-by from a botnet, never going to hit from that address again. So you're adding complexity and extra points of potential failure to your router with no real benefit.

          Obviously I pulled that "99.9%" figure out of my ass, but seriously, whom do you think you're protecting yourself from with this script?

        • Lots of people use dynamic IP addresses. The address you are blocking now, may well belong to a perfectly innocent user tomorrow. You're blocking the wrong people.

        • by jimwelch (309748)
          Sounds like a good way for someone to shutdown your internet. Fake a root login attempt from every IP. You will lose all incoming internet for 90 days.
  • I don't know if it's hilarious or frightening that they did this with default words. I *do* wonder if they;re going to get into some trouble for doing this tho. You could make some serious money off a botnet like that.

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:09AM (#43224599)
    Useful research into vulnerabilities, wasn't used for personal gain, was reported to educate others and so security lapses could be fixed.

    They're so going to jail. [slashdot.org]
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      That's what I was thinking, if the CFAA doesn't apply in this case, it needs to be retooled or scrapped altogether. They've now made their findings public, which strangely enough is just the kind of case the DOJ has been going after.

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:31AM (#43224795)

      If you're an ethical researcher wanting to run a distributed scan of the 'net, the proper way to do it is to use something like PlanetLab [planet-lab.org], which has been designed for uses like that and is freely available for research use. It's what everyone else uses, and it works great. Either that, or go and use your grant money to provision yourself appropriately for a job like this, which is what we did when I was in grad school. Commandeering routers and other devices for personal use is inexcusable.

      Honestly, my first thought was, "What research ethics committee gave him the go-ahead?" My guess: the researcher didn't ask, because none of them would ever let him do it. Besides consuming bandwidth for tens or hundreds of thousands of Internet users without their consent (some of whom were likely capped), he's also loaded code onto their machines: code which they have no guarantee will work as expected in all circumstances. In fact, for all they know, they may have bricked tens of thousands of devices without realizing they did so, then taken their lack of response later as a simple incompatibility with his code.

      When I was in grad school, we were doing web crawler and search engine research that was considered to be a bit on the edge of what was permissible (and our work resulted in serious threats of lawsuits aimed at our university), but we would never consider doing something like what they did. No credible conference or journal would publish this sort of work either, which is as it should be. Researchers have a responsibility to act responsible, and this anonymous one didn't.

      Also, you've said it was useful research, but it really wasn't. These vulnerabilities are widely documented, and those researchers were not only able to publish earlier, they were also able to do so without engaging in gross ethical violations.

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:40AM (#43224903)

      Useful research into vulnerabilities, wasn't used for personal gain, was reported to educate others and so security lapses could be fixed. They're so going to jail. [slashdot.org]

      Of course. They used broke into others computers, uploaded and executed binary files on them, without their permission, for their own purposes. That is both illegal and unethical. They should be punished for that.

      The reason why they did it is not terribly relevant (although it doesn't make it worse, since the end was not itself a crime). The ends do not justify the means. Breaking the door of a house down to tell the owners their door is easily broken down is still breaking and entering.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by DarkOx (621550)

        I would be willing to entrain the argument if your device is set the the manufacturers default published password with no banner making it clear the service is supposed to be publicly accessible; its not very analogue to breaking and entering.

        Its much more like you have locks on your house but don't use them; and someone lets themselves in, has a look around does no harm and does not remove anything. No its still not allowed, you can't just march around someones private property with no expectation you wou

        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @12:17PM (#43225317) Homepage Journal

          No, they left binaries on the devices and took data. That's more analogous to someone going into your unlocked house and trading your copy of LOTR with a candy bar wrapper left on the floor. Much more than simple trespass, it's trespassing, littering, vandalism, and theft.

          • by fuzzywig (208937)
            They left the binaries in RAM, so just a reboot would remove them. They also left a text file with contact info and an explanation in, and they didn't take data from the affected systems, they used the systems to probe other IPs.

            There's not really a physical analogy that fits here but the only damage they did to each individual device would be to slightly raise it's power consumption and bandwidth usage. Insignificant to any individual, although it might well have added up to quite a lot.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      They deployed a botnet using other people's machines for their research. While I find it cool at some level, it's also definitely illegal.

  • Thanks for your test of the internet devices. Although I do not know what this means we have been able to determine that you have committed several criminal acts, and should expect at least a few years of jail time. Don't worry though, it's all for the greater good.
  • by 1u3hr (530656)
    "scan the enitre IPv4 address space."

    Slashdot "editors".

    Otherwise, this seems even more blatant than the case a few days ago: 41 Months In Prison For Man Who Leaked AT&T iPad Email Addresses [slashdot.org]. And these guys actually cracked passwords, despite them being trivial defaults, that still crossed over a legal line.

    • If they scanned the entire (or enitre) IPv4 space, I wonder if they found an unsecured router at 192.168.1.1. That's where I usually find one.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        ha, mine is at 192.168.1.2, good luck cracking that one open!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If no actual harm was done then chasing after the researchers for prosecution is a waste of public money in my opinion, speaking as a tax payer.

    And I mean actual harm, not the made-up harm of "unlawful use of computer equipment" or similar ones which are just infringements in principle, without actual harm done.

    There are so many really bad guys out there to chase that this researcher should be way down on the priority list for enforcement, or using a bit of commonsense, not on it at all. And if he is ide

    • Oh buddy, if you only new how much of your taxes were wasted you would die several hundred deaths from apoplexy. This would be a drop is a very very large bucket.

      • I would say that about 50% of your tax money could be literally burnt in a fire and no one would notice a change in the services provided. Of the remaining 50%, I would guess that half of that is used for programs the government has no business dealing with. So I'd guess that only about 25% of the total you pay in taxes is really necessary. The number would be incredibly less if you aren't considering SS.
    • If s/he was truly careful enough that no systems showed issues and noone noticed, it is entirely possible law enforcement won't pay much attention (no complaints, bigger fish). Just needs to be careful not to fall into their laps.

      Still, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the security research community doesn't take at least a passing look at things to see if they can track back to the author.

    • by moeinvt (851793)

      As long as you pay the taxes in full and on time, the government doesn't give a damn about what you think.

  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:36AM (#43224849)

    Postings all go about how this is illegal and not about the technical situation.

    It is sad times when people are more worried about the legal thread and ruining their lives and not about the technical implications.

    How many people do not dare to bring solutions because they might be punished?

    • I have to disagree with you on this....

      First of all, I'm not sure there's really that much useful gained from such a project? An Internet Census for 2012 made with questionable code loaded onto all sorts of devices in unknown states without anyone's permission? How much validity can I put into those results? (How many devices didn't perform as intended while doing the port scans due to all sorts of possibilities outside the control of the people doing this research? Anything from people having firewalls b

  • "After a reboot the device was back in its original state including weak or no password with none of our binaries or data stored on the device anymore."

    How do you calculate damages for lost uptime?

    • by malakai (136531) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:55AM (#43225041) Journal

      They didn't force the reboot. So they don't need to calculate for lost uptime.
      But they do concede what bandwidth they used and processing time. You could argue they used extra energy, CPU load, and bandwidth, and that equates to money.

      What they really got 'lucky' on, is that they didn't code in a fatal flaw and accidentally create something that had a race condition that resulted in distributed DOS to every IP on the network. We've seen things come close to that in the past with worms. I put quotes around lucky, because I think these guys did their homework, and specifically validated their experiment in a limited environment before releasing it.

      That said, your test environment is rarely a perfect simulacrum for the real world.

      It's a very scary grey hat project. I thought this finding was interesting though:

      So, how big is the Internet?
      That depends on how you count. 420 Million pingable IPs + 36 Million more that had one or more ports open, making 450 Million that were definitely in use and reachable from the rest of the Internet. 141 Million IPs were firewalled, so they could count as "in use". Together this would be 591 Million used IPs. 729 Million more IPs just had reverse DNS records. If you added those, it would make for a total of 1.3 Billion used IP addresses. The other 2.3 Billion addresses showed no sign of usage.

      Based in their rather thorough analysis, only about half the IPV4 address space is being actively used.

      I kind of feel this is a little akin to working with scientific research that comes from morally grey or even black experiments...

      Another thing to consider about this, is based on the platform they built, they could go for the Black Knight approach, and rescue all the flawed devices without their consent. You could easily see taking this project and saying "How do we patch the devices in a way that causes the least amount of harm, and adds the most amount of security".....

      Inoculation can kill though...

      Fine line... very fine line. End of the day, these guys hacked and compromised systems with their own binaries, and then used them to compromise other devices. They'd go to jail if they were discovered. Simple truth.

      • by melikamp (631205)

        It's a very scary grey hat project.

        This is a black hat project because computers and resources were used without owners' knowledge or consent. They said they reverted them to the pre-hack state, but they can't even begin to justify this claim, since they have not a slightest idea about the respective OS configurations. The motive had a selfish component: fame. I would call it a grey-hat hack if it provided significant benefit to people whose computers got hacked, but this is not the case here.

  • While I personally support this kind of research,

    The author is presumably an academic or industry professional (based on the formatting). As such, he knew what he was doing was illegal and had a significantly detrimental effect on low-resource systems. Furthermore, he can't blame a conviction on over-zealous prosecution or recent anti-hacker sentiment because he's obviously emulating Robert Morris (who received three years jail time for the Morris worm - convicted in 1990).

    I also question how useful his sci

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:49AM (#43224987) Journal

    Which is why I always use admin/root for username and password on my systems. You'd think these people would learn not to be so careless. :-)

  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:53AM (#43225023)

    Have a team go door-to-door during working hours, when most people are not home. If they find an empty house with an unlocked door, go inside and use the phone to call a bunch of people and conduct your research. As long as you publish the addresses of all of the houses for academic purposes, nobody should mind.

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:55AM (#43225051)

    I mean it should be possible to create a system that emulates an "open" server, but when a hacker opens up a connection and tries to upload or download data, then fire off a counter measure that will cripple the hacker's system?

    I mean after 30+ years of connected networks there is no such thing as an offensive strike in cyber terrorism?

    I can't believe that hackers are that smart as to outwit servers attempting to back-deploy payloads onto their systems, or even could block a counter attack. I mean with the mentioned botnet hack, it would seem pretty easy that if it "broke" into an unprotected server that server could send back a crippling packet or something. The botnet is running a service that scans and returns data so the violated server should be able to exploit that and dump terabytes of garbage data back to cripple the botnet. A Denial of Hack.

    Actually if I was an active hacker I would rather enjoy luring other hackers to my "unprotected" servers only to f**k with them and mess up their systems.

    • I have a program that will do all this and make the hackers computer explode, email me $500 to buy it.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @01:06PM (#43225781)

      I mean after 30+ years of connected networks there is no such thing as an offensive strike in cyber terrorism?

      Because it is a terrible, terrible idea. If automated counter-attacks were to become the norm, then all it would take to start a "war" between two groups is for someone to compromise just one system at the first group and set it to attacking the second group. Think mutual assured destruction except Anonymous has their finger on the button and it's labeled "lulz."

    • by Cassini2 (956052) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @01:43PM (#43226199)

      This used to be done, back in the early dails of email and usenet. If someone was sending spam, someone else would send their server 10,000 email messages and knock if off line.

      It doesn't really work anymore:
      a) Users are dumb - they don't even know their account/computer has been compromised, and might not care even if it has.
      b) One mail server serves millions of users. That means millions of people pay the price for the actions of one bozo.
      c) Revenge mails look like spam. It gets the sender blacklisted.

    • The hacker's system has to be vulnerable to the "counter measure." So for a telnet connection for example, there would have to be a vulnerability in the telnet client. There is such a thing as an offensive strike but it's not like IRL kinetic warfare where you can just hurl a thing at another thing.

  • I'm pretty sure this story is a very elaborate piece of fiction. That makes way more sense than somebody clearly so smart going to so much trouble to earn themselves a life sentence in prison.

    Maybe last year we could expect someone to do this for real, but not this post-1/11 world.

  • The only result I can see from this guy's "research" is to announce to the world the existence of a low barrier to entry DDOS platform.
    What could possibly go wrong...
    I'm tired of seeing people jailed who are curious about security. But he needs a clue. Guys like this are why I expect Bill Joy wrote his treatise. One man's Epic h4ck is another man's Epic FAIL.
    Of course his ethics are canted at an angle to reality, but if he had just gone a bit farther off the deep end and actually fixed all the password vuln

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @12:48PM (#43225617)

    I see a lot of people complaining about the actions of the researcher, but what about the actions of the manufacturer? If Medeco made a lock that had the equivalent of "admin/admin telnet" on it, they'd be strung up. I'm not saying the researcher is not responsible for his actions, however putting all the blame on him isn't reasonable either.

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