Positive Technologies experts discover dangerous vulnerabilities in robotic vacuum cleaners

Vacuum cleaners can be used to eavesdrop, perform video surveillance, and steal private data

Positive Technologies specialists Leonid Krolle and Georgy Zaytsev have uncovered vulnerabilities in Dongguan Diqee 360 robotic vacuum cleaners. The security issues, found on Dongguan Diqee-branded vacuums, likely affect those made by the company and sold under other brands as well.

Leigh-Anne Galloway, Cyber Security Resilience lead, described the causes and consequences: "The majority of owners of IoT devices would not consider their items a security risk, although they could constitute a major vulnerability, which is why this discovery is key to drawing attention to the threats posed by IoT devices in general as well as this specific device. Like any other IoT device, these robot vacuum cleaners could be marshalled into a botnet for DDoS attacks, but that's not even the worst-case scenario, at least for owners. Since the vacuum has Wi-Fi, a webcam with night vision, and smartphone-controlled navigation, an attacker could secretly spy on the owner."

The first vulnerability, CVE-2018-10987, involves remote code execution. An attacker can discover the vacuum on the network by obtaining its MAC address and send a UDP request, which, if crafted in a specific way, results in execution of a command with superuser rights on the vacuum. The vulnerability resides in the REQUEST_SET_WIFIPASSWD function (UDP command 153). To succeed, the attacker must authenticate on the device—which is made easier by the fact that many affected devices have the default username and password combination (admin:888888).

Attackers need physical access to exploit the second vulnerability, CVE-2018-10988. A microSD card could be used to exploit weaknesses in the vacuum's update mechanism. After the card is inserted, the vacuum update system runs firmware files from the upgrade_360 folder with superuser rights, without any digital signature check. Therefore, a hacker could create a special script, place it on a microSD card in the upgrade_360 folder, insert this card, and restart the vacuum. This script could run arbitrary code, such as a sniffer to intercept private data sent over Wi-Fi by other devices.

As stated by the researchers, these vulnerabilities may also affect other IoT devices using the same video modules as Dongguan Diqee 360 vacuum cleaners. Such devices include outdoor surveillance cameras, DVRs, and smart doorbells.

This is not the first IoT device vulnerability discovered by Positive Technologies. In 2017, the company discovered a critical vulnerability in the firmware of Dahua IP cameras, which are widely used for video surveillance in banking, energy, telecommunications, transportation, and smart homes. Attackers could have exploited the vulnerability to intercept and modify video traffic from an enormous number of IP cameras worldwide.