I didn’t suppose I’d be terrified of a USB cable till I went to Def Con. However that’s the place I first discovered concerning the O.MG Cable. Launched on the infamous hacker convention, the Elite cable wowed me with a mix of technical prowess and its extraordinarily stealth design.
Put merely, you are able to do a number of harm with a cable that doesn’t behave the best way your goal expects.
It’s simply an extraordinary, unremarkable USB cable — or that’s what a hacker would need you to suppose.
“It’s a cable that appears an identical to the opposite cables you have already got,” explains MG, the cable’s creator. “However inside every cable, I put an implant that’s obtained an online server, USB communications, and Wi-Fi entry. So it plugs in, powers up, and you may hook up with it.”
Meaning this ordinary-looking cable is, in actual fact, designed to eavesdrop on the info that passes via it and ship instructions to no matter cellphone or laptop it’s related to. And sure, there’s a Wi-Fi entry level constructed into the cable itself. That characteristic existed within the authentic cable, however the latest model comes with expanded community capabilities that make it able to bidirectional communications over the web — listening for incoming instructions from a management server and sending information from no matter gadget it’s related to again to the attacker.
What can it do?
Stressing, once more, that it is a completely normal-looking USB cable, its energy and stealth are spectacular.
Firstly, just like the USB Rubber Ducky (which I additionally examined at Def Con), the O.MG cable can carry out keystroke injection assaults, tricking a goal machine into considering it’s a keyboard after which typing in textual content instructions. That already offers it an enormous vary of attainable assault vectors: utilizing the command line, it might launch software program purposes, obtain malware, or steal saved Chrome passwords and ship them over the web.
It additionally incorporates a keylogger: if used to attach a keyboard to a bunch laptop, the cable can report each keystroke that passes via it and save as much as 650,000 key entries in its onboard storage for retrieval later. Your password? Logged. Checking account particulars? Logged. Dangerous draft tweets you didn’t wish to ship? Additionally logged.
(This could likely require bodily entry to a goal machine, however there are numerous ways in which an “evil maid attack” might be executed in actual life.)
Lastly, about that in-built Wi-Fi. Many “exfiltration” assaults — just like the Chrome password theft talked about above — depend on sending information out over the goal machine’s web connection, which runs the chance of being blocked by antivirus software program or a company community’s configuration guidelines. The onboard community interface skirts round these protections, giving the cable its personal communications channel to ship and obtain information and even a solution to steal information from targets which might be “air gapped,” i.e., utterly disconnected from exterior networks.
Mainly, this cable can spill your secrets and techniques with out you ever figuring out.
How a lot of a risk is it?
The scary factor concerning the O.MG cable is that it’s extraordinarily covert. Holding the cable in my hand, there was actually nothing to make me suspicious. If somebody had supplied it as a cellphone charger, I wouldn’t have had a second thought. With a selection of connections from Lightning, USB-A, and USB-C, it may be tailored for nearly any goal gadget together with Home windows, macOS, iPhone, and Android, so it’s appropriate for a lot of totally different environments.
For most individuals, although, the specter of being focused may be very low. The Elite model prices $179.99, so that is positively a device for skilled penetration testing, fairly than one thing a low-level scammer might afford to depart mendacity round within the hope of snaring a goal. Nonetheless, prices have a tendency to come back down over time, particularly with a streamlined manufacturing course of. (“I initially made these in my storage, by hand, and it took me 4 to eight hours per cable,” MG instructed me. Years later, a manufacturing facility now handles the meeting.)
Total, likelihood is that you simply gained’t be hacked with an O.MG cable until there’s one thing that makes you a worthwhile goal. But it surely’s reminder that anybody with entry to delicate data needs to be cautious with what they plug into a pc, even with one thing as innocuous as a cable.
Might I take advantage of it myself?
I didn’t get an opportunity to check the O.MG cable instantly, however judging by the online setup instructions and my expertise with the Rubber Ducky, you don’t should be an skilled to make use of it.
The cable takes some preliminary setup, like flashing firmware to the gadget, however can then be programmed via an online interface that’s accessible from a browser. You’ll be able to write assault scripts in a modified model of DuckyScript, the identical programming language utilized by the USB Rubber Ducky; after I examined that product, I discovered it simple sufficient to become familiar with the language but additionally famous a couple of issues that might journey up an inexperienced programmer.
Given the value, this wouldn’t make sense as a primary hacking gadget for most individuals — however with a little bit of time and motivation, somebody with a primary technical grounding might discover some ways to place it to work.