Understanding IoT Vulnerabilities: Restriction Bypass

Just as it implies, restriction bypass is a type of vulnerability that allows unauthenticated attackers to manipulate or exploit an application, as web service, a vulnerability, or even a use case that the developers never considered, in order to bypass some security restrictions. In effect, a cybercriminal can access or modify resources or data located on the smart device, which he is not supposed to.

Regardless of the type of exploitation method the attacker uses, the end goal is to bypass enforced restrictions as to access critical data, files, or even content. When smart devices are involved, this type of remote attack may allow the attacker to take control over the device, issue commands, and even access any information stored on it.

For instance, a common IoT restriction bypass attack is the use of hard-coded user accounts and credentials, enabling cybercriminals to remotely log into devices. Because these usernames and passwords are built within the actual software of the smart device and cannot be changed by the user, hackers exploit this vulnerability to bypass any other restrictions – such as strong user-defined passwords – that should prevent hackers from taking over the smart device.

In some instances, some smart things can be remotely exploited without the use of any username and password combination, as cybercriminals find vulnerabilities in the authentication process that allows them to bypass it. Previous Bitdefender research that such a vulnerability, especially if present in a large number of internet connected IP cameras, can enable hackers to take control over all similarly vulnerable IoTs if they’re connected to the internet.

In essence, a restriction bypass vulnerability could not only expose thousands or hundreds of thousands of vulnerable devices, but attackers to also use them to invade your privacy by spying on you, or perform other cybercriminal activities such as instructing them to send spam, take down websites, or even compromise other smart dives from your household.

Restriction bypass is a consequence of hackers successfully exploiting a vulnerability or a series of vulnerabilities in smart devices, some of which cannot be addressed by the actual users. Addressing these issues can only be handled by the manufacturer through firmware or software updates that all affected users need to install on their devices.

It’s important to constantly check for new security or software updates and fixes for all your home network connected smart devices, as these can prevent cybercriminals from remotely bypassing security restrictions as well as taking control over your entire network. Having a home network cybersecurity solution installed that’s able to both send you notification whenever security updates are available to any of your smart devices as well as constantly checking if cybercriminals are actively trying to remotely control your devices is also more than recommended.

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