INSIGHTS | October 17, 2013

Strike Two for the Emergency Alerting System and Vendor Openness

Back in July I posted a rant about my experiences reporting the DASDEC issues and the problems I had getting things fixed. Some months have passed and I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how the vulnerable systems have progressed since then.

Well, back then my biggest complaint was the lack of forthrightness in Monroe Electronics’ public reporting of the issues; they were treated as a marketing problem rather than a security one. The end result (at the time) was that there were more vulnerable systems available on the internet – not fewer – even though many of the deployed appliances had adopted the 2.0-2 patch.

What I didn’t know at the time was that the 2.0-2 patch wasn’t as effective as one would have hoped; in most cases bad and predictable credentials were left in place intentionally – as in I was informed that Monroe Electronics were “intentionally not removing the exposed key(s) out of concern for breaking things.”

In addition to not removing the exposed keys, it didn’t appear that anyone even tried to review or audit any other aspect of the DASDEC security before pushing the update out. If someone told you that you had a shared SSH key for root you might say… check the root password wasn’t the same for every box too right? Yeah… you’d think so wouldn’t you!

After discovering that most of the “patched” servers running 2.0-2 were still vulnerable to the exposed SSH key I decided to dig deeper in to the newly issued security patch and discovered another series of flaws which exposed more credentials (allowing unauthenticated alerts) along with a mixed bag of predictable and hardcoded keys and passwords. Oh, and that there are web accessible back-ups containing credentials.

Even new features introduced to the 2.0-2 version since I first looked at the technology appeared to contain a new batch of hardcoded (in their configuration) credentials.

Upon our last contact with CERT we were informed that ‘[t]hese findings are entering the realms of “not terribly serious” and “not something the vendor can practically do much about.”‘

Go team cyber-security!

So… on one hand we’ve had one zombie alert and a good hand-full of responsibly disclosed issues which began back in January 2013… on the other hand I’m not sure anything changed except for a few default passwords and some version numbers.

Let’s not forget that the EAS is a critical national infrastructure component designed to save lives in an emergency. Ten months on and the entire system appears more vulnerable than when we began pointing out the vulnerabilities.