SHODAN, the search engine: is it “scarry” or not?
E-Crime Expert presents to you today a search engine which is totally different (in functionality and scope) than the ones we are used to (i.e Google, Bing etc).
For us (E-crime Expert), Shodan has a positive value as it uncovers security vulnerabilities. Used by others (i.e. cybercriminals), Shodan could have a negative side as enables access to different systems (routers, webcams, etc) which have little or no security protection.
According to the description available on their main page here, “SHODAN is a search engine that lets you find specific computers (routers, servers, etc.) using a variety of filters. Some have also described it as a public port scan directory or a search engine of banners”.
Web search engines, such as Google and Bing, are great for finding websites. Rather than to locate specific content on a particular search term, SHODAN is designed to help the user find specific nodes (desktops, servers, routers, switches, etc.) with specific content.
How to use it:
Create and login using a SHODAN account, or Login using one of several other options (Google, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, OpenID).
Login is not required, but country and net filters are not available unless you login.
-country: filters results by two letter country code hostname;
-filtering by country can also be accomplished by clicking on the country map (available from the drop down menu);
-mouse over a country for the number of scanned hosts for a particular country.
-filters results by specified text in the hostname or domain net;
-filter results by a specific IP range or subnet operating system;
-search for specific operating systems port: narrow the search for specific services;
After the search returns some entries (webcams located in a certain area), just click on one of those entries and you will have instant access to what that webcam records live (Fig 1).
E-Crime Expert will try contact all the owners of these vulnerable systems in order to report their security issues and advise how to protect their devices with appropriate passwords and security measures.
1. Run a search for all existing default passwords, as shown in Figure 2.
Having access to the password, one could enter the router’s settings and change them or even more, use the router as a back door to access any device connected to it such as a computer, printer, etc.
2. Once we selected a webcam, click on it and wait for the live footage to play.
What we see is an intersection which could be considered as a public space. The live feeds record everything live (Fig. 3).
4. We next tested a webcam which was recording someone’s home front steps for security reasons perhaps. But the issue here is how that camera’s angle is recording as you can also see the next neighbor’s front alley, car and probably anyone entering their house (Fig. 5).
5. Next example is more intrusive as transmits live feeds from a restaurant where clients could be identified along with the staff members. The purpose of this camera is theft protection but due to its non-existing security measures, now anyone on the Internet could check who came at that restaurant and at what time, transforming the purpose of that camera into a monitoring one (Fig. 6).
6. Not surprisingly, the next webcam becomes even more intrusive by showing live the staff member working in a convenience store, with a “from behind the counter” view. Anytime the staff opens the money drawer, everyone having access to this webcam (available worldwide as shown in this blog post) could approximate how much money is available there. Beside the privacy invasive aspect of the clients and also of the staff member, potentially, could also lead to robberies or similar attacks (Fig. 7).
7. Last examples is the most intrusive and concerning one as it transmits live video streaming from someone’s home. It is intrusive because most probably the guests visiting this person are not aware of the webcam, and also because the footage is now available not just to the security company in charge of protecting this home, but also to virtually anyone on the Internet. The second concerning aspect is that anyone could see what is available on the kitchen counter whether a large amount of cash or cheques or other valuable goods. This again, could lead to robberies or other violent crimes (Fig. 8).
SHODAN aggregates a significant amount of information that is not already widely available in an easy to understand format.
SHODAN collects basic information about the websites, the information “from the inside”, data covering the so-called back-end (simplified information about the type of your server software versions, and so on). On the one hand, it is therefore an excellent data base for those involved in security – but on the other, it is also a source of information for cybercriminals.
The Shodan software runs 24 hours a day. It automatically reaches out to the World Wide Web and identifies digital locators, known as internet protocol addresses, for computers and other devices. For security monitoring teams, Shodan may present some serious challenges. It is highly unlikely that security monitoring teams will ever be alerted to an attack that is using Shodan.
From a privacy perspective, there on the World Wide Web could be some available information accessible to the regular people by simply running a search, which it is not necessarily to be regarded as publically available information, such as the webcam in someone’s home, in a store, gas station etc. This is not publically available information from a legal perspective but it actually becomes available to anyone as some monitoring systems have little or no security measures. According to most international privacy legislation, a surveillance camera should be installed and used just on a legal basis and after a privacy impact assessment is done (as a best practice). That legal basis strictly refers to the purpose of why that camera is used for which definitely does not grant worldwide access to the footage, except where in question is a public space (i.e. park, street, etc).
Even though in question is a public domain under surveillance, there are cases when footage or pictures of those public spaces record more than the public space itself (i.e. Google maps litigations for capturing more than the streets, etc).
The Privacy Impact Assessment is specifically done (among others) to make sure that no unauthorized person has access to the footage recorded by a surveillance camera. Being able to publically find this footage on the Internet, is outside the Privacy and Security requirements and measures in place for a surveillance camera located either within a public space (with the potential of recording private areas as well) and or in a household which is by definition a private space. Probably some of these surveillance cameras are installed by the household owners, aiming to act as a theft protection and consequently be accessible just by the police or other law enforcement entities.
Contrary, by having access globally to this kind of footage, does not align with most of the international existing privacy legislation.
Once again, E-Crime Expert has taken this opportunity (SHODAN – search as a positive tool) to asses current privacy and security issues.
If you have any question you could contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information can be found at: www.e-crimeexppert.com
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- @k3rstin Hi Kerstin. Im fine thank you. Still in Brussels. Can we collaborate on any project/assignment? Best regards, Dan. 1 year ago
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