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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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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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