Media devices sold to feds have hidden backdoor with sniffing functions

(credit: AMX)

A company that supplies audio-visual and building control equipment to the US Army, the White House, and other security-conscious organizations built a deliberately concealed backdoor into dozens of its products that could possibly be used to hack or spy on users, security researchers said.

Members of Austria-based security firm SEC Consult said they discovered the backdoor after analyzing the AMX NX-1200, a programmable device used to control AV and building systems. The researchers first became suspicious after encountering a function called "setUpSubtleUserAccount" that added an highly privileged account with a hard-coded password to the list of users authorized to log in. Unlike most other accounts, this one had the ability to capture data packets flowing between the device and the network it's connected to.

"Someone with knowledge of the backdoor could completely reconfigure and take over the device and due to the highest privileges also start sniffing attacks within the network segment," SEC Consult researcher Johannes Greil told Ars. "We did not see any personal data on the device itself, besides other user accounts which could be cracked for further attacks."

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