EMBA - From firmware to exploit

Presented at BSidesLV 2023, Aug. 8, 2023, noon (20 minutes)

IoT (Internet of Things) and OT (Operational Technology) are the current buzzwords for networked devices on which our modern society is based on. In this area, the used operating systems are summarized with the term firmware. The devices themselves, also called embedded devices, are essential in the private and industrial environments as well as in the so-called critical infrastructure. Penetration testing of these systems is quite complex as we have to deal with different architectures, optimized operating systems and special protocols. EMBA is an open-source firmware analyzer with the goal to simplify and optimize the complex task of firmware security analysis. EMBA supports the penetration tester with the automated detection of 1-day vulnerabilities on binary level. This goes far beyond the plain CVE detection: With EMBA you always know which public exploits are available for the target firmware. Besides the detection of already known vulnerabilities, EMBA also supports the tester on the next 0-day. For this, EMBA identifies critical binary functions, protection mechanisms and services with network behavior on a binary level. There are many other features built into EMBA, such as fully automated firmware extraction, finding file system vulnerabilities, hard-coded credentials, and more.


  • Michael Messner
    As a security researcher and penetration tester I have more than 10 years of experience in different penetration testing areas. In my current position at Siemens Energy, I'm focused on hacking products and embedded devices used in critical environments. This is the area where the firmware scanner EMBA is used and developed.


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