On 27-30 July 2017, a crack team of Secarma ethical hacking specialists went out to DEFCON 25 – this is the world’s largest hacker convention, held annually in Las Vegas, with an estimated global attendance of 35,000 hackers.

One of our chief destinations whilst there was the #SOHOpelesslyBroken IoT Village, to take part in two of the main technical contests:

  1. SOHOpelesslyBroken Capture The Flag (CTF)
  2. SOHOpelesslyBroken 0-Day

The team worked tirelessly around the clock on both challenges, hammering CTF in the day, and then 0-day at night. This blog focuses on how we did in the CTF contest, however since we first it published it we received news on how we won the 0-day content.

Secarma scores maximum points!

We’re extremely proud to say that we were one of only two teams to score a maximum 32,000 points for the IoT CTF contest, gaining access and ‘finding the flag’ in all 18 devices. (We were pipped to 1st place by team Wolf Emoji, who reached maximum points just before we did!)

As one of around a dozen technical challenges, the CTF contest is a great chance for Secarma to show what we do well, every day: finding vulnerabilities in any device that is connected to a network and therefore susceptible to attack.

All of the devices we had to hack were running versions of firmware with known issues. This is typical of a home or business set-up, where routers and other IoT devices are often forgotten and not patched in a timely manner.

The list of devices included cameras, routers, NAS storage, DVRs and even smart light bulbs, with some sitting in different networks. Interestingly, it was through the smart light bulb – that seemingly innocuous gadget – that we were able to pivot from one network to another, and thus compromise all targets.

Nothing too radical for the team here, as we use similar techniques and methodologies as part of any typical penetration test that we run for our clients.

[Note to anyone with cybersecurity in their remit: having complete control of a home router or wireless access point means an attacker, technically, could access and manipulate all network traffic throughout the home, including sensitive activities such as online banking.]

It’s all about the team

At Secarma we know we have a fantastic team of cybersecurity specialists and pentesting experts, having been in the game (formerly as Pentest Ltd) since 2001. To turn up and claim max points at Defcon only reaffirms how great our people are, and makes us extremely proud. We started the CTF challenge towards the back of the pack, having first focused our attentions on winning the 0-Day challenge, so to claim 2nd place with time against us was a fantastic achievement.

It was a true team effort – with Adam, Borja, Dan, Jed, Kyle, Lorenzo, Mark, Sam, Simon working tirelessly, juggling this with arguably the even tougher 0-day contest for unknown vulnerabilities. Even our MD was on hand to keep the team refreshed with beers, as they moved from the contest table to the bar, and back again.

The old maxim goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But this news is something we had to share 🙂

The full list of Defcon 25 results can be found here.


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