IoT: The Rise of the Machines (Guest Diary), (Mon, Jan 12th)

[This is a guest diary submitted by Xavier Mertens]

Our houses and offices are more and more infested by electronic devices embedding a real computer with anoperating system and storage. They areconnected to network resources for remote management, statistics or datapolling. This is called the Internet of Things or IoT. My home network ishardened and any new (unknown)device connected to it receives an IP address from a specific range which has no connectivity with other hosts or theInternet but its packets are logged. The goal is to detect suspicious activity like data leaks or unexpected firmwareupdates. The last toy I boughtyesterday is aSmart Plugfrom Supra-Electronics. This device allows you to control apower plug via your mobile device and calculate the energyconsumption with nice stats. I had a very goodopportunity to buy one for a very low price (25). Lets see whats inside….

The documentation mentions a setup procedure and management via a mobile device (with a free app for IOS orAndroid) but the first reflex is to scan the box. Interesting, a webserver as well as a telnet server are waiting forpackets. Lets try common credentials like admin/admin and…

$ telnet
Connected to
Escape character is ^].
(none) login: admin
BusyBox v1.12.1 (2014-07-31 06:32:52 CEST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter help for a list of built-in commands.

Immediately after the boot sequence, the device started to try to communicate with remote hosts:

Amongst DNS requests and NTP synchronization, a lot of traffic was generated to different IP addresses overUDP/10001. The same packet being sent to different hosts. The payload was a block of 60 bytes:

I was not able to decode the content of this payload, please comment if you recognize some patterns. The devicealso performs a regular connectivity check via a single ICMP ECHO packet sent 5 mins).This network traffic is generated by the process called RDTServer:

# ps
1 admin 1400 S init
2 admin 0 SWN [ksoftirqd/0]
3 admin 0 SW [events/0]
4 admin 0 SW [khelper]
5 admin 0 SW [kthread]
6 admin 0 SW [kblockd/0]
7 admin 0 SW [kswapd0]
8 admin 0 SW [pdflush]
9 admin 0 SW [pdflush]
10 admin 0 SW [aio/0]
11 admin 0 SW [mtdblockd]
18 admin 1084 S nvram_daemon
19 admin 1612 S goahead
20 admin 872 R RDTServer
24 admin 1400 R telnetd
26 admin 872 S RDTServer
27 admin 872 S RDTServer
33 admin 872 S RDTServer
34 admin 872 S RDTServer
35 admin 872 S RDTServer
36 admin 872 S RDTServer
53 admin 1400 S /bin/sh
238 admin 0 SW [RtmpCmdQTask]
239 admin 0 SW [RtmpWscTask]
366 admin 1400 S -sh
505 admin 1400 R ps
678 admin 1400 S udhcpd /etc/udhcpd.conf
1116 admin 1396 S udhcpc -i apcli0 -s /sbin/ -p /var/run/udhcp
1192 admin 872 S RDTServer
1207 admin 772 S ntpclient -s -c 0 86400

I grabbed a copy of the RDTServer binary (Mips) and using the strings command against the file revealedinteresting stuff. The IP addresses used were found in the binary:


Seeing packets sent to China is often suspicious! The domain nameiotcplatform.combelongs toThroughTek, a company specialized in IoT and M2M (Machine toMachine) connection platforms:

Registry Domain ID: 1665166563_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS
Registrar URL:
Update Date: 2014-07-09T11:44:15Z
Creation Date: 2011-07-04T08:50:36Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2016-07-04T08:50:36Z, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:[email protected]
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.480-624-2505
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Charles Kao
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street: 4F., No.221, Chongyang Rd.,
Registrant City: Taipei
Registrant State/Province: Nangang District
Registrant Postal Code: 11573
Registrant Country: Taiwan
Registrant Phone: +886.886226535111
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email:[email protected]

In fact, theIOTC platformis a service developed by ThoughTek to establish P2P communications between devices.I read the documentation provided with the device as well as all the website pages and there is no mention of thisservice. Manufacturers should include some technical documentation about the network requirements (ex: todownload firmware updates). In this case, its not a major security issue but this story enforces what we alreadyknow (and be afraid) about IoT: those devices have weak configuration and they lack of visibility/documentationabout their behavior. Take care when connecting them on your network. A best practice is to inspect the traffic theygenerate once online (DNS requests, HTTP(S) request or any other protocol).

If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in. – Sun Tzu
PGP Key:

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Reposted from SANS. View original.