Google TV Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Exploit Secure Boot

Posted: August 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Yesterday at the DEF CON 21 security conference we released our custom recovery package and 2 individual exploits for the Google TV platform. The 2 exploits leveraged together allow users to install the first custom recovery ever created on the Google TV. The first exploit is a vulnerability which affects certain Linux configurations, in particular those that mount NTFS drives without the nodev flag. This is very similar to a vulnerability we leveraged last year for unsigned kernels on the Gen 1 Sony Google TV where as both exploit poorly mounted flash drives. The difference in this being that the NTFS bug affects every device within the platform and allows users to rewrite previously non write-able (RO) mtdblock partitions. We use this exploit to drop a SU binary on the device within the /system partition which is not mounted nosuid.  Of note, another valid method we could have used would have been to modify the build.prop file. Unfortunately,  even as the root user, security features within the kernel prevent this from being used to allow much for the Google TV community.We can however leverage this exploit to obtain a larger attack surface on the device.

This leads us to our next bug which only affects the boot-loader on the second generation of Google TV devices. This bug is found within the initial loading of the Google TV kernel after the device performs its RSA verification. This can best be summed up by the picture below.

Boot process for second gen Google TV devices.

Boot process for second gen Google TV devices.

As you can see by the above picture, multiple levels of AES decryption and RSA verification are performed. In a secure boot environment this setup is called a “Chain of Trust” which, in more descriptive terms, means that each segment loaded during the device’s boot is signed and verified to establish that it is provided by the manufacturer and not a third party (like GTVHacker). Our attack is actually performed directly after the last AES decrypt and verification routine, which in particular verifies the authenticity of the kernel image being loaded. The bug lies in the fact that the majority of Gen 2 devices do not perform any verification on the loaded RAMdisk address which is stored in the kernel image header. By changing the RAMdisk load address in the image to actually point to the kernel load address and by attaching an unsigned kernel image to the RAMdisk. We are able to load an unsigned kernel directly on top of the actual signed kernel after all decryption and verification routines are performed.  This method works on every device in the platform except the second gen devices by Sony. The Sony devices actually do check the RAMdisk that is supplied, but fail to do so correctly. By simply attaching another kernel and RAMdisk after the signed versions, and pointing the RAMdisk load address to this new kernel and RAMdisk we are able to bypass their signature checks.  By using either of these techniques on the generation 2 devices we are able to  completely destroy the chain of trust the device attempts to establish during boot and we are allowed to run any code needed, which in our case is a custom recovery image that does not perform any signature validation on update images.

Today we are releasing instructions on performing both attacks as well as our slides and content for the presentation.  Please note that this process does involve flashing portions of the device, and in doing so there is a risk of bricking your Google TV. We’ve attempted to make this process as fail-proof as possible in order to prevent bricked devices, however we can’t guarantee that your device won’t become a glorified paperweight.  With that being said, proceed at your own caution.

We will be open sourcing our code as well as compiling more custom recovery images for Google TV devices in the coming days. Keep checking our wiki, blog and Twitter for more info. In the mean time enjoy our DEF CON 21 content that we’ve spent a portion of our free time over the last year working on, and check out the video of the demo from our presentation below.

One Comment on “Google TV Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Exploit Secure Boot”

  1. 1 Chad said at 3:18 pm on August 7th, 2013:

    Saw you guys at DEF CON, thanks for the UART. I was the one who asked “whats next for the chromecast” and I’m still interested if you wish to share privately.