null Meetup: "Flying Drones, NSA Hacking and Backdooring Bootloaders"

01 November 2017
18:30h - 21:30h
Teleportboulevard 121, Amsterdam Sloterdijk
Organised by:


1. "Drones Don't Fly When the Sky is Grey" with Javi Moreno
2. "I Boot when U-Boot" by Bernardo Maia Rodrigues - Vincent Ruijter


Abstract of first talk: A short film by Bea Cabrera. Project presentation, film screening and Q&A.
Storyline: After discovering the tracks of what looks like an illegal hacking attempt upon his company’s network, Mike Donahue will pursue the trespassers’ digital trail while staying one step ahead of the NSA. A fictional story about government surveillance loosely, but factually, based on recent real events.


Abstract of second talk: Personal computer systems are now considerably more secure than embedded devices. Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and secure boot are readily available and even default in a lot of new desktop computers and laptops. Numerous small office and consumer devices, including routers and smart televisions, however, are lacking even the most basic security features. In this talk we will demonstrate and describe the inner-workings of a custom developed (Fully Weaponised IoT Cyber™) bootkit, which gains persistence on U-Boot based embedded devices, at a lower level than even the firmware. Firmware updates and factory resets usually do not interfere with the bootloader, as a small problem could render the device unusable for an end-user: the bootkit will therefore remain present. By including a properly functioning killswitch and a multi-boot like technique, it is possible to switch between a regular and a backdoored image to thwart detection. Enterprises and ISPs must take this additional attack surface into account, and put effort into detecting and responding to this threat. Well-known security researchers have long advocated for easier ways to verify and demonstrate the integrity of hardware, but this comes at a price that vendors are not willing to pay for security. Recently however, regulatory bodies have started to enforce vendors to lock-down their wireless devices, in order to prevent them from operating outside of their certified frequencies. But these 'vendor lock-downs' are not sufficient to increase the device security, as we will demonstrate, it's just a minor inconvenience.



Javi Moreno works as a security consultant, specialised in cryptography and embedded security. Used to play CTFs often, now he prefers to sleep. He participated in Drones Don't Fly When the Sky is Grey as producer, advisor and coffee provider. You can follow him at @vierito5

Bernardo Maia Rodrigues (Brazil) Bernardo works as an Ethical Hacker for KPNs (Royal Duth Telecom) REDteam. He enjoys hacking (and bricking) embedded devices including routers, modems and TVs. He presented on security topics at the NullByte Conference, the null Amsterdam chapter and local venues. He frequently participates in CTFs with TheGoonies and is famous for not using buzzwords like IoT, APT and Cyber in his bio.

Vincent Ruijter (Netherlands) Pacifistic Internetveapon @ KPNs (Royal Dutch Telco) REDteam, who thinks he knows Linux. Moderator @ null Amsterdam chapter, with an endless curiosity for all things binary. Knows how to quit Vi ^[ESC!wqwq:wq!

HSD Partners involved