Envisioning Smart Building Botnets
A building automation system (BAS) is the IT equipment within a building that monitors and controls the building (e.g., measuring temperature in a room to configure the heating level within the same room). We discuss the potential and the use of botnets in the context of BAS. Our botnet concept and scenario is novel in the sense that it takes advantage of the phyiscal capabilities of a building and as it has to adapt to a specialized environment being highly deterministic, predictable, simplistic and conservative. These properties make anomalies easy to detect. Smart building botnets allow the monitoring and remote control of (critical) building automation infrastructure in public and private facilities, such as airports or hospitals. We discuss why building automation botnets could thus enable attackers to cause various critical damage on whole regions and economies. Hiding the command and control communication is a highly beneficial step to adapt botnets to the BAS environment. We show that this is not necessarily a big hurdle and can be solved using existing covert channel techniques.
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