[ISN] Hotel hacking could pump smut into every room

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Aug 23 14:17:33 EDT 2005


By John Leyden
22nd August 2005

Hotel hybrid broadband internet and TV-on-demand entertainment systems
are open to attack, security researchers warn. Penetration testing
firm SecureTest has identified a number of vulnerabilities in the
implementation of hotel broadband systems delivered using Cisco's LRE
(long-reach Ethernet) technology. Using a laptop connected to a hotel
network, SecureTest found it was possible to control the TV streams
sent to each room or gain access to other user's laptops.

The security holes uncovered call to mind the security exploits in
hotel infra-red controls recently uncovered by Adam Laurie, technical
director at secure hosting outfit The Bunker. Ken Munro, managing
director of SecureTest, said that its research covered security
weaknesses in IP (as opposed to infra-red) systems.

During a stay in a hotel belonging to an unnamed worldwide chain, a
SecureTest staffer paid for internet connectivity. He found TCP port
5001 open on the in-room IP enabled TV providing the service.  
Connecting to this port a full TV maintenance menu was displayed over
which it was possible to carry out test procedures, change channels or
turn the TV on and off.

According to SecureTest, a hacker might be able to access this menu
and configure the system to display adult content on every TV channel.  
The port could also be used to broadcast content directly from a
laptop over the TV. In theory, this could enable hackers to download
and broadcast any material throughout the hotel complex.

Another vulnerability revolved around insecure network configuration.  
There appeared to be no segregation between client devices, creating a
means for a user to access other devices connected to the same hotel
network. The system scrutinised used a Cisco 575 LRE box, which allows
existing CAT2 (telephone) cabling to carry on-demand services avoiding
the need to roll out CAT5 (twisted pair) cabling to each room.

The security risk lies not in terms of this technology but in how it
was implemented, problems SecureTest has seen replicated at other
hotels. During a previous investigation, SecureTest used a different
fixed internet/TV hotel system implemented by another hotel chain and
located a connection to an internal FTP server. This provided open
access to information such as a backup database of TV usage.

"A hacker or disgruntled employee could get their kicks by accessing
and manipulating the TV menu, but this breach has much wider
implications. An individual could broadcast their own advertising or
an activist their own political message to every room," said
SecureTest's Munro. "Moreover, fixed internet access is inadequately
protected in many cases. People plug into a hotel network assuming
it's a trusted connection but it's not. Unless they have a personal
firewall running, fraudsters can snoop on desktops at leisure. Hotels
and suppliers of guest entertainment systems need to act now to
prevent these scenarios." ®

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