WHITEPAPER | July 1, 2017

Go Nuclear: Breaking Radiation Monitoring Devices

Radioactivity is a part of our environment; we are continuously exposed to natural radiation arising from the Earth and even from outer space. We are also exposed to artificial sources of radiation, derived from human activities. Ionizing isotopes are used across multiple sectors: agriculture, medicine, research, biochemistry, and manufacturing.

The need for sophisticated devices to measure and detect the presence of radiation seems clear. Critical infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants, seaports, borders, and even hospitals, are equipped with radiation-monitoring devices. This equipment detects and prevents threats ranging from smuggling nuclear material to radiation contamination.

The purpose of this research is to provide a comprehensive description of the technical details and approach IOActive used to discover vulnerabilities affecting widely deployed radiation monitoring devices. Our work involved software and firmware reverse engineering, RF analysis, and hardware hacking.

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