I just found out there’s a search engine out there now that makes Google’s look like child’s play. If it were to get into the wrong hands, it could cause significant damage to a lot of stuff. In fact, it’s potentially such a strong weapon that authorities are using it to determine what is vulnerable so that they can shore up security breeches before bad guys get a hold of it.
It’s called Shodan and it was created by a guy named John Matherly as a “pet project.” While Google and other search engines crawl the Internet looking for websites, Shodan navigates the Internet looking for the servers, webcams, printers, routers and other things connected to the Internet.
Because Shodan collects information on approximately 500 million connected devices and services every month, it can find pretty much everything, including traffic light systems, security cameras and heating systems, as long as they’re connected to the Internet. Cyber security researchers have even used it to find command and control systems for nuclear plants and a particle-accelerating cyclotron.
If a system found by Shodan has no security or easy-to-figure out passwords, it is vulnerable to attack. And that could happen if Shodan were being used by the wrong person. One security penetration tester demonstrated that with the click of a button he could defrost an ice rink in Denmark or turn off a hydroelectric plant in France.
Right now, security professionals are using Shodan to spot unsecured connected devices and then alert the operators that they are vulnerable to attack. CNN Money recently wrote an article about this that you can read here. It’s a frightening world out there, people.
This is the first I’ve heard of Shodan. Were you familiar with it? Let me know what you think should be done with a search engine that has so much potential for doing damage. If you were in charge of trying to keep bad guys from using Shodan to infiltrate important city and government infrastructure, what would you do? Looking forward to hearing from you regarding this intriguing subject.