Samsung SmartCam owners warned of hacker hijack vulnerability

A group of security researchers have uncovered a critical security hole in Samsung SmartCam devices that could allow malicious hackers to remotely seize complete control of cameras, and run malicious code.

The remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability has been confirmed to exist in PHP code used by the Samsung SNH-1011 SmartCam to update its iWatch video monitoring application. In a blog post, the researchers – who call themselves the Exploitee.rs – describe how the code fails to properly check if the name of uploaded files contains malicious input, opening an opportunity for attackers to inject commands that can hijack complete control of the devices.

“The iWatch Install.php vulnerability can be exploited by crafting a special filename which is then stored within a tar command passed to a php system() call. Because the webserver runs as root, the filename is user supplied, and the input is used without sanitization, we are able to inject our own commands within the achieve root remote command execution.”

Clearly that’s not good news at all if you have any interest in keeping your camera’s video feed private.

The researchers claim that they informed Samsung about the security flaw, and as a consequence the company shut down direct web access access to the cameras. Users are now required to log into the Samsung SmartCloud website to view live feeds from their cameras.

But that’s not the end of the problem.

The researchers claim that Samsung’s fix isn’t really a proper fix at all, saying that the company has left vulnerable scripts on users’ SmartCams which can still be accessed by hackers to take remote control of the devices, and get up to all types of mischief – including changing the administrator password and even re-enabling the web interface that Samsung had disabled.

To underline their point, the researchers at Exploitee.rs released a video showing what they had achieved.

This, of course, is just the latest critical vulnerability found in internet-connected cameras which have been blamed for assisting criminals in launching damaging denial-of-service attacks that have successfully brought down well-known websites and disrupted internet infrastructure.

The message for users? Not all IoT devices have been manufactured with security as a priority, and may be found to contain security holes that hackers can exploit for their own ends. Keep your IoT devices updated with the latest patches, change default passwords and – where possible – prevent devices from being accessed remotely from outside of your network.

Samsung says that it will address the issue in an upcoming firmware update.

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