If an attacker wanted to sneak a monitoring device into a target network, how might they go about it?
As Naked Security reported last week, they could try soldering a tiny chip on to the circuit board of something like a firewall on the assumption that it will never be noticed. But there might be a much simpler approach – hide the device in plain sight, safe in the knowledge that its very conspicuousness means its legitimacy will probably never be questioned. This was the initial suspicion of a team from UK-based outfit Pen Test Partners when they noticed an unlabelled, “potentially toxic box” connected to the onboard LAN of a ship that the team was performing a security assessment on. Ship networks feature a lot of specialised equipment, of course, but every box should have a purpose. And yet, after enquiring about its origins, the message came back : Fleet management told us that shoreside had no invoice, record, or inventory listing for it. They were blissfully unaware of its existence. It had an Ethernet connection to the ship LAN but was also connected to a Windows console on the bridge which was so bright at night that the crew covered it up. The assumption had been that it was meant to be there.
How many more mystery boxes might be quietly sitting connected to numerous other networks?
We pen test a variety of vessel and platform types across different fleets and operators. In every single test to date we have unearthed a system or device,