35th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC 2019)

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HDMI-WALK: Attacking HDMI Distribution Networks via Consumer Electronic Control Protocol

The High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is the backbone and the de-facto standard for Audio/Video interfacing between video-enabled devices. Today, almost tens of billions of HDMI devices exist in the world and are widely used to distribute A/V signals in smart homes, offices, concert halls, and sporting events making HDMI one of the most highly deployed systems in the world. An important component in HDMI is the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) protocol, which allows for the interaction between devices within an HDMI distribution network. Nonetheless, existing network security mechanisms only protect traditional networking components, leaving CEC outside of their scope. In this work, we identify and tap into CEC protocol vulnerabilities, using them to implement realistic proof-of-work attacks on HDMI distribution networks. We study, how current insecure CEC protocol practices and carelessly implemented HDMI distributions may grant an adversary a novel attack surface for HDMI devices otherwise thought to be unreachable through traditional means. To introduce this novel attack surface, in this paper, we present HDMI-Walk, which opens a realm of remote and local CEC attacks to HDMI devices. Specifically, with HDMI-Walk, an attacker can perform malicious analysis of devices, eavesdropping, Denial of Service attacks, targeted device attacks, and even facilitate other well-known existing attacks through HDMI. With HDMI-Walk, we prove that it is feasible for an attacker to gain arbitrary control of HDMI devices. We demonstrate the implementations of both local and remote attacks with commodity HDMI devices including Smart TVs and Media Players. Our work aims to uncover vulnerabilities in a very well deployed system like HDMI distributions. The consequences of which can largely impact HDMI users as well as other systems which depend on these distributions. Finally, we discuss security mechanisms to provide impactful and comprehensive security evaluation to these real-world systems while guaranteeing deployability and providing minimal overhead, while considering the current limitations of the CEC protocol. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work solely investigating the security of HDMI device distribution networks.

Luis C Puche Rondon
Florida International University

Leonardo Babun
Florida International University

Kemal Akkaya
Florida International University

Selcuk Uluagac
Florida International University


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