Infrastructure Hacking: Cyber Crime on the Rise

Last month in Detroit, Michigan, a gas station on 7 Mile and Southfield roads was the target of a crime – a robbery, specifically. What makes this incident different from the more commonplace robberies that frequently target gas stations is that the theft was not of cash or goods from within the store, but of gas itself. All the more puzzling though, is how it was achieved.

ClickOnDetroit reports that the gas pump was hacked. Two thieves armed with what can only be called “a device” were able to gain unauthorized control of a gas pump and freely discharge gasoline from it for over 90 minutes. In that time they were able to discretely steal 600 gallons of gas, a value of over 1,800 dollars without anyone catching on. By having cars come and fill up directly instead of filling up barrels that might draw suspicion, the thieves were able to avoid detection, abusing the fact that the station in question was almost always busy by blending in with the natural traffic.

The threat identified by this incident is no laughing matter. The root cause stems from the over-specialization of computer systems that carry out simple transactions like gas purchases. The devices used for these applications are often only designed to carry out that specific function, making them cheap but unable to implement peripheral systems, such as cyber security. This lack of security could result in not only theft of gas, but the credit card information of previous customers at the pump.

It is to secure resource-constrained devices such as those found in so many Internet of Things edge-nodes that the SecureGO module of Trillium Secure platform was originally developed. With its ability to add robust cyber security features to even the most basic automotive-grade hardware, SecureGO has the potential to introduce cyber security to the entire IoT edge-node ecosystem, securing every link in the chain that defines the interconnected world of tomorrow. As incidents like this become more frequent, the world will constantly be reminded that any defense – cyber or otherwise – is only as strong as its weakest link.