Electronic lock maker tries to stop bug report with copyright threat

Security firm IOActive has received a copyright takedown notice attempting to prevent it from publishing details about security flaws in an industrial electronic lock.

Security researchers are no strangers to legal threats attempting to suppress vulnerability disclosures and the latest example comes from US electronic lock maker CyberLock.

CyberLock didn’t want IOActive to reveal a handful of flaws in CyberLock’s CyberKey access control systems that would undermine its claims and has leaned on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to block the report. CyberLock’s legal threat was made public by IOActive’s principal research scientist Mike Davis, the author of the report.

The legal notice, written by the company’s law firm, insinuates that IOActive may have breached the “anticircumvention provision” of the DMCA while reverse engineering and pulling apart CyberLock’s products and its extracting its firmware.

“Presumably, IOActive is also aligned with the ensuring responsible disclosure and compliance with the laws,” the letter reads.

IOActive had tried to contact CyberLock numerous times prior to it receiving the DMCA notice, according to Davis, which is in line with the company’s disclosure policy. He initially withheld the name of the company behind the legal threat but later clarified it was CyberLock.

“i tried to get a hold of the vendor they didn't respond.. the lawyer was a giant douche and they wont actually let us talk to anyone regarding the issues.. even now... just legal threats and intimidation,” Davis said in a Google-plus post.

The security vendor doesn’t appear to have taken the threat too seriously, publishing the report on April 29, a day after receiving the legal threat.

An IOActive spokesman confirmed to CSO Australia that the report was the one that drew CyberLock’s legal threat and it’s drafting a public response to it. We’ll update the story when we receive it.

The report details seven flaws that undermine CyberKey’s claim that the software-based key is “‘unclonable’ and suitable for use in money handling and critical infrastructure systems as a secure and auditable solution.”

Davis was able to extract the firmware of CyberKe yand discovered that, contrary to the firm’s marketing, a key can fairly easily be cloned, while soft keys were also stored in cleartext in CyberKey’s electronic version of a standard lock’s cylinder.

CyberLock lists a number of critical infrastructure and other clients on its website, including pubic transport authorities, schools, postal service providers, and an electricity transmission company.

The lock maker’s handling off the report has drawn sharp criticism from security researchers and others well-versed in the legal challenges security researchers face.

“Having a lawyer respond to security researchers is like asking your neighbor to turn down the music w/ a gun in your hand. It won't end well,” said ACLU technologist, Christopher Soghoian.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags DMCA Security updatesCyberKeyIT NewsCyberLockcopyright threatsecurity flawsCSO Australiabug reportIOActive

More about CSOEnex TestLabGoogle

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Liam Tung

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts