Sega’s Dreamcast gaming console, which has not been popular with gamers for sometime, has gained a new lease on life.
Two security researchers showed attendees at the Defcon hacking conference on Friday, how to reuse the a Sega Dreamcast as stealthy network monitoring device.
“When you only have a few minutes, you need to be able to drop something off that will let you access the network later,” Aaron Higbee, a consultant with Foundstone and one of the two programmers who worked on the project, said of the Dreamcast consoles.
Higbee and his programming partner, consultant Chris Davis of RedSiren Technologies, created the software to turn a Dreamcast into a network bug. Their software, when burned onto a CD-R and placed in a Dreamcast that has a broadband network adapter, allows the game console to give a hacker access to the network to which it is connected.
Rather than teaching hackers in the audience how to monitor others’ networks, Higbee and Davis said the demonstration was intended to alert network administrators to the danger that many innocent-looking devices could pose a threat to network security.
Walking into a company and dropping a device onto the network is a simple way to defeat much of the network security that businesses might erect to keep out attackers, Higbee said.
Perhaps the best part of this of this solution is that the Dreamcast units are now discarded and can be picked up used for very little money, but still have a lot of life left in them.
The software that Higbee and Davis have created – they stress that they haven’t modified the hardware because they don’t want to run afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – is a Linux-based system. The software will first scan the network the Dreamcast console is on and then attempt to create an encrypted network back to the hacker’s network.
Dubbed “180-degree” hacking by the duo, the ability to have a device on the inside makes a hacker’s job much easier.