Network Security, Vulnerability Management

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

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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.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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