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Kaspersky Lab discovers hacking vulnerabilities at 1,000 gas stations

Analysts from cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab have helped discover vulnerabilities that left hundreds of gas stations around the world open to remote control access from third parties.

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have helped uncover a number of unknown vulnerabilities that have left gas stations around the world exposed to remote takeover, often for years. The vulnerabilities were found in an embedded gas station controller of which there are currently over 1,000 installed and online. The manufacturer was notified when the threat was confirmed.

Kaspersky Lab experts found the controller during unrelated research into devices with open connections to the internet. 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 it is connected to 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 able to do various operations including shutting down all fuelling systems, changing fuel prices, causing leaks, and scrapping vehicle license plates and driver identities.

Remote control would also allow hackers to carry out circumvent payment terminals to steal money – the controller connects directly to the payment terminal, so payment transactions could be hijacked.

“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.

Kaspersky Lab advises manufacturers of connected internet-of-thing devices to consider the security of their products from the very first moment of development and design, and to review legacy devices for possible security vulnerabilities.

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