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IoT Firmware Hacking


IoT Firmware Hacking


Introduction to IoT

Welcome to the realm of IoT hacking. In this exploration, we delve into the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of interrelated devices that communicate data autonomously. These devices range from common household appliances to sophisticated industrial tools. However, with increased connectivity comes heightened security risks. This article provides an insight into the world of IoT hacking, emphasising firmware vulnerabilities and exploitation methods.

Setting Up Your Environment

To begin hacking IoT devices, setting up the right environment is crucial. Here are some tools and resources:

IoT Search Engines

Identifying vulnerable IoT devices requires the right tools. IoT-specific search engines like Censys and Shodan are pivotal for researchers and hackers. These platforms allow users to discover and analyze devices connected to the internet, providing a gateway to potential security gaps within IoT infrastructures.

Understanding Firmware in IoT

Firmware is the unsung hero of IoT devices, acting as the interface between hardware and higher-level software. It’s crucial to understand how to obtain firmware for analysis and hacking purposes. Techniques like JTAG, Google-Fu, and visiting manufacturer’s official websites are common methods for acquiring firmware. Each approach has its unique advantages and challenges, forming the foundation for further exploitation and analysis.

Extracting and Exploiting IoT Firmware

The real hacking begins with firmware extraction. Tools like Binwalk (Firmware Analysis Tool) (command: binwalk -e firmware.bin) are instrumental in deconstructing firmware binaries, revealing the underlying code and potential vulnerabilities. Once extracted, the next phase is exploitation, using techniques like searching for telnet services (grep -ir telnet) to find potential entry points.

Additionally, the JTAG interface serves as a critical tool in firmware extraction, particularly for devices that are resistant to traditional extraction methods. JTAG, a standard for verifying designs and testing printed circuit boards after manufacture, can be repurposed for ‘boundary scanning’—a process of accessing a device’s firmware directly. This technique requires physical access to the device and a deep understanding of its hardware architecture, making it a powerful approach for firmware analysis and vulnerability discovery in IoT devices.
Furthermore, obtaining firmware directly from manufacturers’ websites is another viable method. Often, manufacturers provide firmware updates and downloads for their devices. This approach is particularly useful for researchers and ethical hackers who want to analyse the most recent firmware versions. It’s a straightforward method to acquire official firmware, offering insights into how devices operate and potential security flaws within these official software versions.

Cracking IoT Passwords

Password security is a common flaw in IoT devices. Using tools like hashcat, hackers can attempt to crack hashed passwords, often found in device firmware. A good dictionary and understanding of hash types are essential for successful password cracking, turning seemingly secure devices into open books.

For a practical demonstration of password cracking, consider our detailed guide on “Hacking WiFi WPA2 Using Hashcat in Under 1 Minute.” This article provides an in-depth look at using Hashcat for cracking WiFi passwords, showcasing its efficiency and power. The techniques and insights gained there can be similarly applied to IoT devices, emphasising the importance of robust password security in the IoT landscape.

Emulating IoT Firmware

Understanding an IoT device’s behaviour is key in hacking. Emulation tools like QEMU (command: qemu firmware.bin) allow hackers to run firmware in a controlled environment, simulating the device’s operations and uncovering vulnerabilities without needing physical access to the hardware.

Remote Code Execution (RCE) in IoT Firmware

One of the most dangerous vulnerabilities in IoT is Remote Code Execution (RCE). Tools like Burp Suite aid in testing for RCE vulnerabilities, allowing hackers to potentially take complete control of a device remotely. This kind of exploitation can have significant implications, especially in devices that are part of critical infrastructure.

Understanding and Utilising Shellcodes in IoT Hacking

Shellcodes play a pivotal role in the exploitation phase of IoT hacking. These small code snippets are designed to provide a command shell when exploiting vulnerabilities, especially in cases of buffer overflow attacks. For a comprehensive collection of shellcodes, visit Shell Storm, a valuable resource for hackers and security researchers. This website offers a wide range of shellcodes for different platforms and scenarios.

Additionally, tools like Metasploit in Kali Linux are essential for creating and handling shellcodes. For instance, initiating Metasploit can be done through the command: sudo msfconsole. This powerful framework provides an environment to generate, manipulate, and exploit shellcodes in various contexts, making it an indispensable tool in IoT firmware hacking.

└─$ sudo msfconsole         
[sudo] password for kali: 
Call trans opt: received. 2-19-98 13:24:18 REC:Loc

     Trace program: running

           wake up, Neo...
        the matrix has you
      follow the white rabbit.

          knock, knock, Neo.

                        (`.         ,-,
                        ` `.    ,;' /
                         `.  ,'/ .'
                          `. X /.'
                .-;--''--.._` ` (
              .'            /   `
             ,           ` '   Q '
             ,         ,   `._    \
          ,.|         '     `-.;_'
          :  . `  ;    `  ` --,.._;
           ' `    ,   )   .'
              `._ ,  '   /_
                 ; ,''-,;' ``-


       =[ metasploit v6.3.27-dev                          ]
+ -- --=[ 2335 exploits - 1220 auxiliary - 413 post       ]
+ -- --=[ 1382 payloads - 46 encoders - 11 nops           ]
+ -- --=[ 9 evasion                                       ]

Metasploit tip: Use the resource command to run 
commands from a file
Metasploit Documentation:

msf6 > show payloads


Recommended Reading

For those who wish to delve deeper into the world of IoT security, “Practical IoT Hacking: The Definitive Guide to Attacking the Internet of Things” is an invaluable resource. Authored by Fotios Chantzis (Security Engineering at OpenAI) and other experts in the field, this book offers comprehensive insights into IoT security threats and practical hacking techniques. It serves as a perfect companion for anyone passionate about understanding and improving the security of IoT devices. Find it on Amazon: Practical IoT Hacking.


In the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the significance of IoT Firmware Hacking cannot be overstated. It not only exposes the vulnerabilities inherent in these interconnected devices but also highlights the urgent need for robust security measures. As hackers continually adapt to technological advancements, the knowledge and skills in IoT Firmware Hacking become invaluable for protecting our digital ecosystem. This article serves as a stepping stone towards understanding and mitigating the risks associated with IoT devices, ensuring a safer digital future.

Cogeanu Marius
Cogeanu Marius
Marius Cogeanu is a distinguished IT consultant and cybersecurity virtuoso based in Prague, Czechia. With a rich 20-year journey in the IT realm, Marius has carved a niche in network security and technological solutions, adeptly harmonizing tech with business requirements. His experience spans from Kyndryl to IBM, and as a valued independent consultant, where he's renowned for his innovative approaches in enhancing business operations with cutting-edge tech.Marius's forte lies in demystifying complex IT concepts, ensuring clarity and alignment for stakeholders at all levels. His commitment to staying at the forefront of industry trends and seeking innovative solutions cements his status as a go-to expert in cybersecurity. Driven by a fervent passion for technology and its potential to revolutionize businesses, Marius thrives on tackling challenging ventures, applying his prowess in network design, IT service management, and strategic planning.Currently, Marius is focused on leading-edge IT project management, infrastructure design, and fortifying cybersecurity, guiding clients through the intricate digital landscape with unmatched expertise and insight.Discover more on


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