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Kaspersky finds security potholes in ‘smart’ roads

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Kaspersky Lab has proved that data gathered and processed by these road sensors can be dramatically compromised. This could potentially affect future city authority decisions on the development of road infrastructure.

In an attempt to explore security issues in smart city transport infrastructure and give recommendations on how to address them, a Kaspersky Lab Global Research & Analysis Team (GReAT) expert has conducted field research into the specific type of road sensors that gather information about city traffic flow. As a result, Kaspersky Lab has proved that data gathered and processed by these sensors can be dramatically compromised. This could potentially affect future city authority decisions on the development of road infrastructure.

Transport infrastructure in a modern megalopolis represents a very complicated system, containing different sorts of traffic and road sensors, cameras, and even smart traffic light systems. All the information gathered by these devices is delivered and analysed in real-time by the special city authorities. Decisions about future road constructions and transport infrastructure planning can be made based on this information. If the data is compromised it can cause millions in losses to the city.

In particular, if fraudulent access to the transport infrastructure is gained, the following may occur:

·         The data gathered by road sensors may be compromised in an attempt to sabotage it or resell it to third parties;

·         Modification, falsification and even deletion of critical data;

·         Demolition of the expensive equipment;

·         Sabotage the work of the city authority’s services.

Recent research by a Kaspersky Lab expert in Moscow was conducted on a network of road sensors that gather traffic flow information – in particular the quantity of vehicles on the road, their type and average speed. This information is transferred to the city authority’s command center. City traffic authorities receive the information and use it to support and update a real-time road traffic map. The map, in turn, could then serve as a source of data for city road system construction or even for automating traffic light system controls.

The first security issue, discovered by the researcher, was the name of the vendor clearly printed on the sensor’s box. This crucial information helped the Kaspersky Lab expert to find more information online about how the device operates, what software it uses etc. The researcher discovered that the software used to interact with the sensor, as well as technical documentation, were all available on the vendor’s website. In fact, the technical documentation explained very clearly what commands could be sent to the device by a third party.

Just walking near the device, the researcher was able to access it via Bluetooth as no reliable authentication process was implemented. Anyone with a Bluetooth-enabled device and software for discovering passwords via multiple variants (brute force) could connect to a road sensor in this way. But what to do next?

Using the software and technical documentation, the researcher was able to observe all data gathered by the device. He was able to modify the way the device gathers new data: for example changing the type of vehicle recorded from a car to a truck, or changing the average traffic speed.  As a result all newly gathered data was false and not applicable to the needs of the city.

“Without the data gathered by these sensors, actual traffic analysis and subsequent city transport system adjustments would not be possible. These sensors can be used in the future to create a smart traffic light system and also to decide what kind of roads should be built, and how traffic should be organised, or reorganised, in what areas of the city. All these issues mean that the work of sensors and the quality of data gathered by them should be accurate and stable. Our research has shown that it is easy to compromise the data. It is essential to address these threats now, because in the future this could affect a bigger part of the city’s infrastructure”, said Denis Legezo, Security Researcher, Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT), Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab recommends several measures to help prevent a successful cyberattack against transport infrastructure devices. These include:

·         Remove or hide the vendor’s name on the device, as this could help an attacker to find tools online for hacking the device;

·         Change the default names of the device and disguise the vendor’s MAC addresses if possible;

·         Use two steps of authentication on devices with Bluetooth connectivity and protect them with strong passwords;

·         Cooperate with security researchers to find and patch vulnerabilities.

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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