ZigBee-sniffing drone maps hackable IoT devices

August 07, 2015 //By Rich Pell
ZigBee-sniffing drone maps hackable IoT devices
Using a flying drone capable of detecting Internet-connected devices, information security firm Praetorian (New York, NY) was able to identify over 1,600 unique IoT devices in a test flight over Austin, TX.

Part of an IoT Map Project designed to map and examine the security of connected devices, the drone is able to collect data on ZigBee-connected devices up to 100 meters away by tracking their communications. According to the company, the drone can detect devices' security settings and manufacturers, as well as whether the devices are used in commercial, residential, or industrial areas.

"[The IoT devices] communicated over a wireless protocol called ZigBee. This protocol is open at a network level. So when the devices start connecting they send out beacon requests. We capture data based on this," says Praetorian vice president Paul West Jauregui.

The "ZigBee-sniffing" drone was outfitted with custom hardware from open-source DIY hardware company Adafruit. The majority of the devices it detected were in residential areas - many of them connected products from Sony and Philips Lighting.

Currently the project is focused on the exploration and mapping of connected devices. Ultimately the company plans to analyze the collected data and determine security vulnerabilities.

More drone flights are planned in other U.S. cities. The company also plans to release a "how to build your drone" guide shortly, to encourage more people to join the project and create their own "tech-tracking" drones.

Internet of Things Map Project

Praetorian: www.praetorian.com

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