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Kaspersky Lab researchers have helped uncover a number of unknown vulnerabilities that left gas stations around the world exposed to remote takeover, often for years

The vulnerabilities were found in an embedded gas station controller of which there are more than 1,000 installed and online. The manufacturer was notified when the threat was confirmed.

Kaspersky Lab experts found the controller during research into devices with open connections to the internet. In many cases the controller had been placed in the fuel station over a decade ago and had been connected to the internet ever since.

The controller, which runs a Linux machine, operates with high privileges and the researchers discovered a number of vulnerabilities that leave the device and the systems it is connected to open to cyberattack.

According to the company, an intruder able to bypass the login screen and gain access to the main interfaces would be able to do any of the following:

· Shut down all fuelling systems

· Change the fuel prices

· Cause fuel leakages

· Circumvent payment terminals to steal money (the controller connects directly to the payment terminal, so payment transactions could be hijacked)

· Scrape vehicle license plates and driver identities

· Execute code on the controller unit

· Move freely within the gas station network

“When it comes to connected devices it is easy to focus on the new and to forget about products installed many years ago that might be leaving the business wide open to attack. The damage that could be done by sabotaging a gas station doesn’t bear thinking about. We have shared our findings with the manufacturer,” said Ido Naor, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

The vulnerabilities have also been reported to MITRE and the research is ongoing, said the company.

Kaspersky Lab advises manufacturers of IoT devices to consider the security of their products from the very first moment of development and design, and to review legacy devices for possible security vulnerabilities. 

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