CERT: Poor password policy leaves OpenELEC operating system vulnerable to hackers

OpenELEC's default root password for SSH cannot be reset, and therefore is vulnerable to hackers.
OpenELEC's default root password for SSH cannot be reset, and therefore is vulnerable to hackers.

The CERT Division at Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute yesterday issued an alert detailing a password vulnerability in the Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center (OpenELEC) operating system, as well as the RasPlex entertainment center solution for Raspberry Pi devices that is based on the free, open-source OpenELEC distribution.

According to the alert, OpenELEC and RasPlex employ a hard-coded root password for Secure Shell (SSH), a encryption protocol that allows users to remotely log in to an otherwise unsecured network. Because the password is a default credential issued by the original developer, it can be easily looked up or guessed by hackers seeking access into someone's OpenELEC system. Unfortunately, the alert continues, “The root partition is by default read-only, preventing a user from changing the password once installed.”

Since resetting the hard-coded password is unfeasible, CERT instead recommends, among other options, disabling the use of password access to SSH and enabling SSH keys instead.

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