A common satellite comms package for ships and oil rigs has a backdoor that won't be patched

An audit of Inmarsat's AmosConnect 8 (originally sold by Stratos Global, now an Inmarsat division) reveals that the ship-to-satellite internet product has a deliberate hidden backdoor — and an accidental SQL code-injection vulnerability — that allows anyone in the world to take over all, interrupt, and/or spy on the internet access on many of the world's largest ships and oil rigs.

Amosconnect 8 reached its end-of-life in June 2017, and will no longer receive any patches, meaning these vulnerabilities will remain intact until all affected systems are replaced, which is to say, indefinitely.

The function that grants backdoor access is called "authenticateBackdoorUser."

Apparently, internet communications packages are isolated from internal ship networks that control steering, navigation and propulsion. However, access to the ship's internet would be a boon to pirates and state actors wishing to monitor ships' communications and learn about cargoes, destinations, and locations.

"Essentially anyone interested in sensitive company information or looking to attack a vessel's IT infrastructure could take advantage of these flaws," Ballano said. "This leaves crew member and company data extremely vulnerable, and could present risks to the safety of the entire vessel. Maritime cyber security must be taken seriously as our global logistics supply chain relies on it and as cyber criminals increasingly find new methods of attack."

Backdoor Account Found in Popular Ship Satellite Communications System

[Catalin Cimpanu/Bleeping Computer]