SBN Hardware Hacking 101 – Lesson 3: Abusing UART (U Are RooT)

Hardware Hacking 101 - Lesson 3: Abusing UART (U Are RooT)As a reminder, Lesson 1 was a primer on electronics and setting up your lab, and Lesson 2 was an introduction to classical hardware hacking. To get started with security-focused hardware hacking, let’s look at a pretty simple example: getting a root shell by breaking into U-Boot via a serial console. Basically, we’re just going to connect to a serial port, change a boot flag, and get a shell. Sounds simple, right? To some extent, it is! The only real hard parts are finding the serial port, determining the pinout, and determining the timing. No problem, right? By the end of this lesson, you’ll be abusing UART with the best of them.

The unassuming target of this lesson is a Synology RT2600ac wireless router. This is one of the devices that the ISE Labs team assessed as part of our SOHO 2.0 project, but we had a bit of a problem. We had used the device but failed to record the credentials. And the reset button? Broken. This is where getting a hardware shell came in handy. By using a UART to get a shell, I was able to reset the password and get the assessment back on track. Hardware shells allow you to do so much more though, both in the context of repair and in the context of security. It’s a root shell, you can usually do whatever you like.

A Note on Safety

Now that we’re working with something that plugs into the wall, we need to have a serious talk about safety. Like I said in the first part of this series, electricity can be deadly. The fact of the matter is that electricity doesn’t give a damn about your spouse and children. It will kill you without hesitation, should you give it a chance. (Read more...)

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from The Ethical Hacker Network authored by Ian Sindermann. Read the original post at: