HaXmas Hardware Hacking

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When mucking about with firmware (the packaged operating system and applications that makes IoT devices go), Binwalk from Refirm Labs is the standard for exploring those embedded filesystems. In nearly all cases, a “check for updates” button on a newly opened device will trigger some kind of firmware download—IoT devices nearly always update themselves by downloading and installing an entirely new firmware—so if you can capture that traffic with something like Wireshark (now that you’ve set up your proxied environment), you can extract those firmware updates and explore them with Binwalk.

Allsocket eMMC153 chip reader

Now, with the software above, you will go far in figuring out how an IoT device does its thing, but the actual hands-on-hardware experience in IoT hacking is kinda the fun part that differentiates it from regular old web app testing. So for this, you will want to get your hands on a chip reader for your desoldered components. Pictured below is an Allsocket device that can be used to read both 153-pin and 169-pin configurations of eMMC storage, both of which are very common formats for solid-state flash memory in IoT-land. Depending on where you get it, they can run about $130, so not cheap, but also not bank-breaking.


Thanks again to Jonathan Stines, who did all the work that led to this post. If you need some validation of your IoT product, consider hiring him for your next IoT engagement. Rapid7’s IoT assessment experts are all charming humans who are pretty great at not just IoT hacking, but explaining what they did and how they did it. And, if you like this kind of thing, drop a comment below and let me know—I’m always happy to learn and share something new (to me) when it comes to hardware hacking.

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