Kaspersky Lab Reveals Gas Station Controllers are Susceptible to Cyberattacks

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have helped in the discovery of a number of previously unknown vulnerabilities that exposes gas stations to remote takeover.

Ido Naor, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, together with another researcher found a gas station controller during unrelated research into devices with open connections to the internet. The embedded controller of which there are currently over 1,000 installed and online, exposes gas stations around the world to threats that can harm the industry. The manufacturer was notified when the threat was confirmed.

In many cases the controller had been placed in the fuel station over a decade ago and had been connected to the internet ever since.

The controller, which runs a Linux machine, operates with high privileges and the researchers discovered a number of vulnerabilities that leave the device and the systems connected to it open to cyberattack. For example, the researchers were able to monitor and configure many of the gas station settings.

An intruder able to bypass the login screen and gain access to the main interfaces would be also able to do any of the following:

  • Shut down all fueling systems
  • Change fuel prices
  • Cause fuel leakages
  • Circumvent payment terminals to steal money (the controller connects directly to the payment terminal, so payment transactions could be hijacked)
  • Scrape vehicle license plates and driver identities
  • Execute code on the controller unit
  • Move freely within the gas station network

“When it comes to connected devices it is easy to focus on the new and to forget about products installed many years ago that might be leaving the business wide open to attack.  The damage that could be done by sabotaging a gas station doesn’t bear thinking about. We have shared our findings with the manufacturer,” said Ido Naor, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

The vulnerabilities have been reported to MITRE and the research is ongoing.

Kaspersky Lab advises manufacturers of IoT devices to make security a priority, this includes reviewing legacy devices for possible security vulnerabilities. Users of connected devices are urged to regularly check the security settings of these devices.

More information on the research is available on Securelist.