One of the major concerns that people have raised about the increasing pervasiveness of surveillance tools from not just the NSA, but various law enforcement agencies, is that all of this is making us significantly less safe. That's because if law enforcement and intelligence employees can use these tools, so can those with malicious intent
. Driving home that point is the news from some security researchers that a popular tool used by law enforcement to wiretap communications has "a litany of critical weaknesses, including an undocumented backdoor secured with a hardcoded password."
Because, surely, no "bad guys" would ever figure that out. The details
are fairly damning.
Attackers are able to completely compromise the voice recording / surveillance
solution as they can gain access to the system and database level and listen to
recorded calls without prior authentication.
Furthermore, attackers would be able to use the voice recording server as a
jumphost for further attacks of the internal voice VLAN, depending on the
As for the root backdoor, it's like the whole thing was created by security amateurs:
The MySQL database table "usr" contains a "root" user with USRKEY / user id 1
with administrative access rights. This user account does NOT show up within
the "user administration" menu when logged in as administrator user account in
the web interface. Hence the password can't be changed there.
As a side note: Password hashes are shown in the user administration menu for
each user within HTML source code.
The people who make these things often seem to assume that they can get away with security by obscurity, since they never consider that non-law enforcement types will get access to their systems. That seems hopelessly naive.