Security Experts:

Segway miniPRO Flaws Put Riders at Risk of Injury

The Ninebot by Segway miniPRO hoverboard-style electric scooter is affected by several vulnerabilities that can be exploited to take control of the device and possibly injure the rider, security consulting firm IOActive warned.

The Segway miniPRO is accompanied by a mobile application that allows users to obtain diagnostics data about the vehicle, change settings, update the firmware, enable anti-theft mechanisms, and find other hoverboarders nearby.

IOActive researchers analyzed the miniPRO application and determined that an attacker could have intercepted unencrypted Bluetooth communications between the scooter and the mobile app.Segway vulnerabilities

While the app did require a PIN when launched, experts determined that the Bluetooth interface was unprotected at the protocol level, allowing an attacker to access it and remotely conduct various actions.

In an attack scenario described by IOActive, hackers could have used the social feature to locate nearby riders and exploit the Bluetooth vulnerabilities to change the application’s PIN and lock out the legitimate user.

Once access to the application was obtained, the attacker could have installed a malicious firmware on the hoverboard because Ninebot did not implement any firmware update integrity checks.

Uploading a malicious firmware could have allowed hackers to take control of the scooter, including to change its settings, modify its direction and pace, remove rider detection, and even suddenly disable the motor, which could lead to serious injury.

“Using reverse engineering and protocol analysis, I was able to discover a number of worrisome security threats,” explained Thomas Kilbride, embedded device security consultant at IOActive. “For example, I determined that riders in the area were indexed using their smart phone’s GPS. Therefore, each rider’s location was publicly available, so the hoverboards could be found, tracked, hijacked, and controlled without the rider’s knowledge.”

IOActive has published a video providing a high-level explanation of the findings and showing how an attack works in a real-world scenario:

IOActive informed Segway of its findings in late December 2016 and the vendor patched the more important vulnerabilities with an application update released in April.

In the past years, IOActive found vulnerabilities in several types of products, including robots, cars, home automation devices, electronic locks, in-flight entertainment systems, routers and industrial devices.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.