Posted: March 4th, 2017 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: NAS, Western Digital | 16 Comments »
Sometimes at Exploitee.rs, we look for fun devices to hack and sometimes the devices find us. Today we’re going to talk about a recent time where we found ourselves in the latter situation and our experience with the Western Digital series of Networked Attached Storage devices.
In the middle of last year I (Zenofex) began looking for a NAS that provided hardware decoding through my currently prefered media player, Plex. After a bit of research I ordered a Western Digital “MyCloud” PR4100. This device met all the requirements of what I was looking for and came highly recommended by a friend. After adding the NAS to my network and visiting the device’s admin page for the first time, I grew weary of adding a new device to my network without giving it a proper audit. So, I logged in, enabled SSH access, and looked at how the web server functionality of the device worked.
I quickly found the first bug that shocked me, this bug was based on code that performed a user login check but did so using cookies or PHP session variables. Using cookies for authentication isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the way that the Western Digital MyCloud interface uses them is the problem. Examine the code below.
$ret = 0;
if (isset($_SESSION['username']) && $_SESSION['username'] != "")
$ret = 2; //login, normal user
if ($_SESSION['isAdmin'] == 1)
$ret = 1; //login, admin
else if (isset($_COOKIE['username']))
if (isset($_COOKIE['username']) && $_COOKIE['username'] != "")
$ret = 2; //login, normal user
if ($_COOKIE['isAdmin'] == 1)
$ret = 1; //login, admin
“username” variable is set and is not empty – User is logged in as a normal privileged user.
“isAdmin” variable is set to 1 – User is logged in as an administrator.
This means that any time there is a login check within the PHP scripts, an attacker is able to bypass the check by supplying 2 specially crafted cookie values.
During the process of writing up my findings a new firmware was rolled out patching the above bug. However, this patch introduced a new vulnerability which had the same consequences as the original (prior to the update). Below is the current version including the fixed code.
20 function login_check()
22 $ret = 0;
24 if (isset($_SESSION['username']))
26 if (isset($_SESSION['username']) && $_SESSION['username'] != "")
27 $ret = 2; //login, normal user
29 if ($_SESSION['isAdmin'] == 1)
30 $ret = 1; //login, admin
32 else if (isset($_COOKIE['username']))
34 if (isset($_COOKIE['username']) && $_COOKIE['username'] != "")
35 $ret = 2; //login, normal user
37 if ($_COOKIE['isAdmin'] == 1)
38 $ret = 1; //login, admin
40 if (wto_check($_COOKIE['username']) === 0) //wto check fail
41 $ret = 0;
44 return $ret;
In the updated version of the code, a call to the new method “wto_check()” is made (line 40). This function runs a binary on the device with the client supplied username as an argument along with the user’s IP address. If the user is currently logged in and hasn’t timed out the value 1 is returned, otherwise 0 is returned (indicating the user isn’t logged in). The code for the “wto_check()” method can be found below.
4 return value: 1: Login, 0: No login
6 function wto_check($username)
8 if (empty($username))
9 return 0;
11 exec(sprintf("wto -n \"%s\" -i '%s' -c", escapeshellcmd($username), $_SERVER["REMOTE_ADDR"]), $login_status);
12 if ($login_status === "WTO CHECK OK")
13 return 1;
15 return 0;
18 /* ret: 0: no login, 1: login, admin, 2: login, normal user */
In the above you can see that on line 11 the command is formatted to include the username and IP address as arguments to the “wto” binary. The problem with the above is the incorrect use of the PHP method “escapeshellcmd()” which, in its intended usage, handles an entire command string, and not just an argument. This is because the “escapeshellcmd()” function does not escape quotes and therefore allows an attacker the ability to break out of the encapsulating quotes (in our case for the “-n” argument), allowing for new arguments to be supplied to the binary. Because of this, instead of actually checking if the user is logged in, we can add new arguments and log the user in ourselves. Although we do not believe simply verifying that the user is already logged in by checking an IP address and login timeout is sufficient. The programmer who wrote this code should have used “escapeshellarg()”, which is intended to filter independent binary arguments and which does filter out quotes. Using “escapeshellarg()” as opposed to the currently used “escapeshellcmd()” would have at least prevented this attack from working.
Command Injection Bugs
A majority of the functionality of the WDCloud web interface is actually handled by CGI scripts on the device. Most of the binaries use the same pattern, they obtain post/get/cookie values from the request, and then use the values within PHP calls to execute shell commands. In most cases, these commands will use the user supplied data with little or no sanitization. For example, consider the following code from the device.
15 $username = $_COOKIE['username'];
16 exec("wto -n \"$username\" -g", $ret);
The code above assigns a value from the COOKIE superglobal variable, which contains array indexes for cookies submitted from the request, to the local variable “$username”. This value is then immediately used in a PHP “exec()” call as an argument to the local “wto” binary. Since there is no sanitization, using a username value like
turns the existing exec command into
wto -n "$(touch /tmp/1)" -g
and executes the user supplied command within.
Because the argument is encapsulated with double quotes and we use the “$(COMMANDHERE)” syntax, the command “touch /tmp/1” is executed prior to the execution of the “wto” binary and the return value of which is used as its “-n” argument. This basic pattern resulting in a command injection vulnerability is used multiple times within the many scripts used by the web interface. While some may have normally been prevented by authentication being required, that restriction is overcome by the authentication bypass mentioned above. Also, it is important to note that all commands executed through the web interface are done so as the user the web-server is running as, which, in this case is root.
While you may think that the above bugs are severe, there are a number of other errors within the web interface with some being as simple as the normal authentication being commented out:
6 //include ("../lib/login_checker.php");
8 ///* login_check() return 0: no login, 1: login, admin, 2: login, normal user */
9 //if (login_check() == 0)
11 // echo json_encode($r);
12 // exit;
And others being more functionality specific, like the following example of a bug allowing a non-authenticated user the ability to upload files onto the myCloud device.
2 //if(!isset($_REQUEST['name'])) throw new Exception('Name required');
3 //if(!preg_match('/^[-a-z0-9_][-a-z0-9_.]*$/i', $_REQUEST['name'])) throw new Exception('Name error');
5 //if(!isset($_REQUEST['index'])) throw new Exception('Index required');
6 //if(!preg_match('/^[0-9]+$/', $_REQUEST['index'])) throw new Exception('Index error');
8 //if(!isset($_FILES['file'])) throw new Exception('Upload required');
9 //if($_FILES['file']['error'] != 0) throw new Exception('Upload error');
11 $path = str_replace('//','/',$_REQUEST['folder']);
12 $filename = str_replace('\\','',$_REQUEST['name']);
13 $target = $path . $filename . '-' . $_REQUEST['index'];
15 //$target = $_REQUEST['folder'] . $_REQUEST['name'] . '-' . $_REQUEST['index'];
17 move_uploaded_file($_FILES['file']['tmp_name'], $target);
20 //$handle = fopen("/tmp/debug.txt", "w+");
21 //fwrite($handle, $_FILES['file']['tmp_name']);
22 //fwrite($handle, "\n");
23 //fwrite($handle, $target);
26 // Might execute too quickly.
The above code consists of no checks for authentication and, when called will simply retrieve the uploaded file contents and use the user supplied path to determine where to place the new file.
Beyond the bugs listed in this blog post, our wiki is full of bugs we’ve found within the MyCloud web interface. Our general goal at Exploitee.rs is to get bugs fixed as quickly as possible. However, the large number of severe findings means that we may need to re-evaluate the product after the vendor has properly fixed the released vulnerabilities.
At Exploitee.rs, we normally attempt to work with vendors to ensure that vulnerabilities are properly released. However, after visiting the Pwnie Awards at the last BlackHat Vegas, we learned of the vendor’s reputation within the community. In particular, this vendor won a “Pwnie for Lamest Vendor Response” in a situation where the vendor ignored the severity of a set of bugs reported to them. Ignoring these bugs would leave the vulnerable devices online for longer periods while responsible disclosure is worked out. Instead we’re attempting to alert the community of the flaws and hoping that users remove their devices from any public facing portions of their networks, limiting access wherever possible. Through this process, we’re fully disclosing all of our research and hoping that this expedites the patches to users’ devices.
Bugs Found Statistics
1 x Login Bypass
1 x Arbitrary File Write
13 x Unauthenticated Remote Command Execution Bugs
70 x Authentication Required Command Execution Bugs*
*”Authentication Required” bugs can be reached with the login bypass bug.
Most, if not all, of the research can be applied to the entire series of Western Digital MyCloud products. This includes the following devices:
- My Cloud
- My Cloud Gen 2
- My Cloud Mirror
- My Cloud PR2100
- My Cloud PR4100
- My Cloud EX2 Ultra
- My Cloud EX2
- My Cloud EX4
- My Cloud EX2100
- My Cloud EX4100
- My Cloud DL2100
- My Cloud DL4100
For the complete listing and a small write-up on each of the bugs found during our Western Digital MyCloud research, visit the Exploitee.rs Wiki.
For updates on Western Digital’s response or alerts when new content is added to our wiki or blog follow us on twitter @Exploiteers
Posted: January 14th, 2017 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Today we’re re-visiting a device that we’ve hacked in a previous session. At DEFCON 22, we released exploits for the Samsung Smartcam network camera in our “Hack All The things” presentation. These exploits allowed for remote command execution and the ability to arbitrarily change the camera’s administrator password. After being alerted to the vulnerabilities, Samsung reacted by removing the entire locally accessible web interface and requiring users to use the Samsung SmartCloud website. This angered a number of users [Example 1, Example 2] and crippled the device from being used in any DIY monitoring solutions. So, we decided to audit the device once more to see if there is a way we can give users back access to their cameras while at the same time verifying the security of the devices new firmware.
When a user visits the updated web interface on the Samsung Smartcam, they are now greeted with a “404 – Not Found” message. The interface previously in place, which allowed for users to view and configure their camera, is now completely removed with only backend scripts left. Seemingly all vulnerabilities found by us as well as those found by others are patched. There was however one set of scripts that were not removed or modified, the php files which provide firmware update abilities for the camera through its “iWatch” webcam monitoring service were left untouched. These scripts contain a command injection bug that can be leveraged for root remote command execution to an unprivileged user.
iWatch Install.php Root Command Execution
The iWatch Install.php vulnerability can be exploited by crafting a special filename which is then stored within a tar command passed to a php system() call. Because the web-server runs as root, the filename is user supplied, and the input is used without sanitization, we are able to inject our own commands within to achieve root remote command execution. You can find the technical writeup and fix for the vulnerability as well as instructions for re-enabling the Smartcams’s web administration panel on our wiki along with a video demonstration below.
Posted: December 31st, 2014 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Exploitee.rs, GTVHacker | 1 Comment »
When GTVHacker started, we were a group of researchers who met on a popular Android developer forum and simply wanted more from our newly purchased and heavily fortified Logitech Revue Google TV devices. We would have never thought that our simple goal of utilizing our hardware would turn into GTVHacker. We moved to an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel and began researching how our devices worked and how we could make them better. This eventually turned into an obsession until we released our first root exploit for the Revue. Flash forward 4 years to today, and the irony of the situation is that we (as a group named “GTVHacker”) have released exploits for 40+ devices, and only 1/3 of them have been for the Google TV platform. Within the same time period Google itself has ditched the Google TV name in place for “Android TV” guaranteeing an experience more in line with that of its Android mobile devices.
So we as a group have decided it’s finally time to retire the name “GTVHacker” and transition into our new form as (the) “Exploiteers”. Over the next few days we will be transitioning all of the rest of the content from the GTVHacker network on to Exploitee.rs. We will be changing site logos and themes but the archived content will stay the same. If you happen to notice something that’s not working right, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
In the mean time, here are a few things to look forward to from the Exploitee.rs
- New exploits!
- New custom hardware!
- A new storefront to sell our custom hardware (and other future items).
TLDR, We’re now the Exploitee.rs and we’re hacking more than ever before!
Happy New Year!
Posted: December 28th, 2013 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: Roku, Uncategorized | 12 Comments »
Hello Universe, welcome back. It’s been a while since our last post due to a lack of new Google TV hardware and developments. When we have free time we tend to look at other interesting opportunities that come our way and recently we came into just such a situation when we found ourselves auditing multiple Roku devices.
You may not know it by looking at the device, but the Roku is considerably more secure than most entertainment devices in its genre (even our namesake). The engineers at Roku not only implemented a decently hardened grsec kernel, they did it where we hadn’t seen before, on ARM. The layers above that contain a miscellaneous assortment of secure boot and encryption methods with configurations varying between the different chipsets throughout the platform. Our package leverages one such configuration, the bcm2835 chipset, in which user accessible per box keys are used to sign the initial “stage 1” portion of the bootloader. This allows us, from the initial root bug, to modify a portion of the system boot and remove signature verification checks. Effectively breaking the “chain of trust” established and allowing us to load any compatible image desired.
Now for the details. The initial root exploit utilizes a local command execution vulnerability within the developer settings menu of the device. Specifically, the bug is within the development password field, and due to poor sanitation of input, the bug lets us run commands as root. This affects the majority of updated Roku devices and was ironically introduced as a security improvement. The downside to this bug is that it does not provide a persistent root method (or, in short, a method that continues beyond system restarts). This left us looking for a method to persist root on the device, which is when we noticed the configuration of the bcm2835 Roku devices. In this chipset, the bootloader is signed by a per box key which, in all tested bcm2835 devices, is included on the box. By having the per box key we are able to break the chain of trust and load a modified “stage 2” bootloader image. In our case we modify the stock U-Boot to include the “dev=1” kernel cmdline argument that identifies a developer device. We then take advantage of a init.d script which allows us to place files in a non-signature validated portion of the file system that is executed when the “dev=1” kernel cmdline argument is set. We use this file to place commands to mount a replacement version of “/bin/Application”, Roku’s main content shell binary, to allow us to disable automatic updates on each boot.
We’ve packaged up all of the above into a nicely commented script which can be downloaded from our download servers at:
The file above contains a script with a cpio archive that includes the following 5 files:
- bpatch – compiled for the device and used to apply binary patches to files
- mtd1-uboot.patch – a patch file for bpatch used to patch the U-Boot portion of mtd1
- nandboot.patch – a patch file for bpatch used to patch nandboot.bin (stage1 bootloader)
- roku2-nandwrite.ko – a custom kernel module used to modify kernel cmdline in memory and trick the NAND driver into allowing bootloader writes.
- Application.patch – a patch file for bpatch used to patch /bin/Application to disable updates.
The entire GTVHacker team has put a lot of work into this release and we hope the Roku community enjoys it. We invite others to continue our work and are happy to share progress made while we work to further leverage the current exploits before a patch is released. In the mean time, if you have a second generation Roku, root it. And if you don’t, buy one quick!
This bug will probably get patched soon. So in other words, exploit now or forever hold your peace.
Posted: August 3rd, 2013 | Author: zenofex | 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.
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.
Posted: May 22nd, 2013 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: Asus, GTVHacker | Comments Off on “CubeRoot” Pulled From Google Play Store
The inevitable has happened, the GTVHacker “CubeRoot” Android application has been removed from the Google Play Store. At 11:14 AM CST, I received the following automated message from “Google Play Support”:
This honestly came as no surprise, we suspected that based on Google’s previous stance on the matter, our application would be removed from the market. However, it is interesting to be told the exact clause of the “Content Policy” that our app supposedly violated. Also, let it be noted that the GTVHacker CubeRoot application was listed on the Play Store for a total of 5 days.
As of today the Asus Cube is still vulnerable to the CubeRoot exploit. So even if you don’t plan on rooting your device with our exploit, you may want to consider using it solely for patching your device from attacks from malicious applications.
You can find a link [HERE] to download CubeRoot.apk.
Posted: May 17th, 2013 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: Asus, GTVHacker, Root | 5 Comments »
After almost 3 years of GTVHacker, we have continued to strive to bring the Google TV community the best “root” methods on the platform. To date we have released multiple methods for gaining root access on the first and second generations of devices. We’ve also released hardware roots and software roots but have yet to venture into Android application development, until now:
Let me introduce you to Cuberoot, a brand new root for the Asus Cube. This root leverages a local command execution vulnerability within a Unix socket for NFS mounting. This socket interfaces with a helper application that doesn’t properly sanitize input allowing local code execution. Luckily for us, this particular vulnerability is made better by being able to be exploited from within an Android app. “But with great power comes great responsibility”, and with such we’ve decided to not only provide the method for rooting the Asus Cube but also allow users an easy method of patching their device to prevent another application from exploiting the bug for nefarious reasons.
So, what will Cuberoot do?
- Root your Asus Cube.
- Install SuperSu.
- Modify the Flash Player to bypass website blocks on streaming media sites.
- Disable automatic updates.
- Collect anonymous statistical information about your device.
- Allow you to patch this vulnerability, which prevents malicious applications from using this bug.
Download the app [Here] or Check out Cuberoot in action below:
UPDATE: Now in the Google Play Store!
Search for Cuberoot in the Play store, or click [Here] to install.
Posted: January 17th, 2013 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: GTVHacker, Netgear, Root | 1 Comment »
Netgear NeoTV Prime
We first broke news of the Netgear NeoTV Prime back in December, and have since been anxiously awaiting its roll out. Today the day arrived and we received our NeoTV Prime.
The NeoTV Prime uses the same form factor and hardware design as the Vizio Co-Star and Hisense Pulse. The box’s UI is a stock Google TV interface and is identical to some of the other Google TV devices.
Netgear NeoTV Prime Remote
The remote however is much different than the rest, with a smaller size and thickness plus a clickable mouse, the remote is much easier to hold and use. Although the remote is well thought out, the D-Pad leaves room for improvement. Furthermore, there does not appear to be a microphone which means the voice search additions coming with version 3 may require an additional purchase.
On to the exploits!
What would be the point of a simple first look post without some exploits!? In fact, this root method may be simpler than the method we previously disclosed for the Hisense Pulse. While the last one required ADB, this method only needs a properly set up USB drive.
The NeoTV Prime runs a debug service called “testmode” which checks for a USB drive with a file named “.testmode” containing the magic string “testmodemark”. The system then checks to see if the file contains the magic string “testmodemark”. If the system finds the file, it sets the “persist.radio.testmode.enabled” property to 1 and reboots. Then, if the device detects this property as 1 upon boot, it attempts to copy and then extract a file named “test_mode.tgz” from the USB drive to /tmp/. After extracting, the system tries to run a sh file named “/tmp/test_mode/test_mode.sh”. Assuming we set the permissions correctly this file will allow us to run the payload of our choosing as root.
Netgear NeoTV PrimePwn Root Process
The Following are Automatically Performed:
- Installs SuperSu.apk
- Disables automatic updates
- Modifies flash plug-in to allow streaming of Hulu and other previously blocked content providers
Neo TV “PrimePwn” Root Process:
1.) Download PrimePwn.zip
2.) Extract the PrimePwn.zip to a Fat32 formatted USB drive. (test_mode.tgz, .testmode, README)
3.) Put the USB drive into your NeoTV Prime and reboot.
4.) Let the process run, it will reboot a few times and then will end at the home screen. (Approximately 3 minutes later)
5.) Remove your USB drive.
Netgear NeoTV Prime UART Pinout
Netgear was kind enough to add an extra line in the init script that forces the hardware (UART) console to spawn as root. The box can be difficult to take apart and the software root is an easy process so we don’t recommend you use this method. We just wanted to mention its existence.
GTVHacker Wiki: Netgear NeoTV Prime
Purchase at Amazon or Newegg
Posted: January 1st, 2013 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: Hisense | Comments Off on Hisense Pulse – The Verdict is Accident
If you remember our previous post about the Hisense Pulse and its original shipping configuration then you’ll remember that the device, unlike all others in the Google TV line, came almost completely unlocked. Specifically, it shipped with a hardware root shell in recovery and normal boot modes, as well as allowed adb to be rebooted as root with a simple command. At the time we were wondering based on how open this device was shipped, was this an accident or was this a show of support to the “customizing” Google TV community? Well the verdict is in after an update was released this morning patching all current Hisense Pulse root methods. In particular, the update that was released today (BOX_2.31a.C1204_E_release , download here ) changes the “ro.debugabble” prop to 0 causing the hardware root method as well as the “adb root” command to no longer work. At the moment there is no other public root method but don’t worry, if you haven’t updated yet you can still run our “Pulse Modification Package” from the Hisense Pulse section of the wiki which disables automatic updates. Also, if you haven’t purchased a Pulse yet or have one already on the way, the Pulse will continue to ship “unlocked” for the time being. If we use the Logitech Revue as a reference point, since it shipped with hardware root shell in recovery mode until it was discontinued, newly purchased Pulse units may never be patched but will need to be rooted before their initial setup.
It’s sad to find out that the little bit of hope we had about this being a show of community support, as opposed to an accident, is now gone. We will continue to help the community “free” their devices as we have on the rest of the Google TV platform while hoping for the much needed release of a true Google TV “Nexus” device.
Posted: December 22nd, 2012 | Author: zenofex | Filed under: GTVHacker, Hisense, Root | Tags: google, Hisense, Pulse, Root, TV | 2 Comments »
The day has finally arrived, the Hisense Pulse has launched and is finally in our hands. Upon first look we were impressed with the speed of navigation from within the menus. If you have experience with the previous generation of the Google TV platform then you’ll recognize the Pulse’s UI which seems to be almost identical to that of the Logitech Revue. The form factor of the Pulse is similar in size and shape to that of the already released Vizio Co-Star, and the motherboard layout makes it seem like they used a similar design. One difference between the Co-Star and the Pulse is that the Pulse’s remote is much more intuitive and its use feels more natural. All together it’s exactly what someone would expect for another device in the Google TV family but with one of the cheapest prices in its generation.
Our biggest and most unexpected surprise came within moments of our first examination of the Pulse. Upon receiving any new hardware, partially because of our previous experience with the Revue, we like to start off disassembling the hardware even before powering on a device. After doing so in this particular instance we found that a hardware root-shell is enabled by default through the serial console header on the device’s motherboard. Better yet, the root-shell is available in both recovery and normal boot which allows for tinkering of the device in both modes of operation. While we’ve seen serial consoles left in prior Google TV devices (see: Logitech Revue), we had yet to see a Google TV device that included a shell within both normal and recovery mode, let alone one in the second generation of the Google TV platform. While leaving a hardware shell leaves the box almost completely vulnerable its use still requires some soldering experience. However, after further exploration we noticed a 4 pin header on the Pulse PCB which allowed us to simply plug in a common connector and avoid soldering all together! This adapter is conveniently in a location that can be accessed by either temporarily opening the device and plugging in the adapter, or for more permanent use, by cutting a hole in the side of the case. The ease of access to the pin header as well as the obvious oversight of the serial console was just the beginning of our findings.
After finishing up our quick analysis of the hardware we finally had the opportunity to explore how the device’s software side was configured. We found that even with the hardware root oversight being as unexpected and less secure than any of its counter parts, the software side was worse. After browsing through the system’s init scripts, and checking the props, we noticed that a simple “adb root” to the device would restart adb as root therefore providing us with a root shell via adb.
Why is this device so much less secure than any of the other Google TV devices? Is this an oversight, or did someone at Hisense purposely leave it there to show community support? We hope that someone did this purposely as it would be great if a manufacturer or Google finally embraced the modding community, but it was probably just an oversight.
Knowing this, we thought it would be best to release our findings for the community as soon as possible as it will likely be patched quickly with the next automatic update. However, if you do have a Hisense Pulse and would like to take advantage of root before it’s possibly patched. We have a package that will perform a few community desired modifications such as:
- Install Superuser.apk and su binary to device.
- Patch flash player to allow content to be played from previously blocked websites (Hulu, Fox, CBS, NBC, etc.).
- Disable automatic updates to preserve root (can easily be reversed).
You can find information on our modification package at the GTVHacker Wiki page for the Hisense Pulse
We have more coming soon, check back around the first of the year for a sneak peek at something even more awesome than this!
Looking to purchase a Hisense Pulse and also want to support GTVHacker? [Use this link to purchase at Amazon]