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Update your Belkin WeMo devices before they become botnet zombies

Lucian Constantin | Nov. 7, 2016
Researchers have disclosed a critical vulnerability in Belkin's WeMo Switch and possibly other devices

The WeMo switches are not as powerful as some other embedded devices like routers, but they could still be an attractive target for attackers because of their large number. According to Belkin, there are more than 1.5 million WeMo devices deployed in the world.

Attacking such a device does require access to the same network. But attackers could, for example, configure Windows malware programs, delivered through infected email attachments or any other typical method, that would scan local networks for WeMo devices and infect them. And once such a device is hacked, attackers can disable its firmware upgrade mechanism, making the compromise permanent.

The two Invincea researchers also found a second vulnerability in the mobile application that's used to control the WeMo devices. The flaw could have allowed attackers to steal photos, contacts and files from users' phones, as well as track the locations of phones, before it was patched in August.

The exploit involved setting a specially crafted name for a WeMo device that, when read by the WeMo mobile app, would force it to execute rogue JavaScript code on the phone.

When installed on Android, the application has permissions to access the phone's camera, contacts and location as well as the files stored on its SD card. Any JavaScript code executed in the app itself would inherit those permissions.

In their demonstration, the researchers crafted JavaScript code that grabbed photos from the phone and uploaded them to a remote server. It also continuously uploaded the phone's GPS coordinates to the server, enabling remote location tracking.

"WeMo is aware of the recent security vulnerabilities reported by the team at Invincea Labs and has issued fixes to address and correct them," Belkin said in an announcement on its WeMo community forums. "The Android app vulnerability was fixed with the release of version 1.15.2 back in August, and the firmware fix (versions 10884 and 10885) for the SQL injection vulnerability went live on November 1st."

Tenaglia and Tanen said Belkin was very responsive to their report and is one of the better IoT vendors out there when it comes to security. The company actually did a pretty good job of locking down the WeMo Switch on the hardware side, and the device is more secure than average IoT products on the market today, they said.


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