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Colin Faife

Colin Faife

1 month ago

The brand-new USB Rubber Ducky is much riskier than before.

The brand-new USB Rubber Ducky is much riskier than before.

Corin Faife and Alex Castro

With its own programming language, the well-liked hacking tool may now pwn you.

With a vengeance, the USB Rubber Ducky is back.

This year's Def Con hacking conference saw the release of a new version of the well-liked hacking tool, and its author, Darren Kitchen, was on hand to explain it. We put a few of the new features to the test and discovered that the most recent version is riskier than ever.

WHAT IS IT?

The USB Rubber Ducky seems to the untrained eye to be an ordinary USB flash drive. However, when you connect it to a computer, the computer recognizes it as a USB keyboard and will accept keystroke commands from the device exactly like a person would type them in.

Kitchen explained to me, "It takes use of the trust model built in, where computers have been taught to trust a human, in that anything it types is trusted to the same degree as the user is trusted. And a computer is aware that clicks and keystrokes are how people generally connect with it.

The USB Rubber Ducky, a brainchild of Darren Kitchen Corin

Over ten years ago, the first Rubber Ducky was published, quickly becoming a hacker favorite (it was even featured in a Mr. Robot scene). Since then, there have been a number of small upgrades, but the most recent Rubber Ducky takes a giant step ahead with a number of new features that significantly increase its flexibility and capability.

WHERE IS ITS USE?

The options are nearly unlimited with the proper strategy.

The Rubber Ducky has already been used to launch attacks including making a phony Windows pop-up window to collect a user's login information or tricking Chrome into sending all saved passwords to an attacker's web server. However, these attacks lacked the adaptability to operate across platforms and had to be specifically designed for particular operating systems and software versions.

The nuances of DuckyScript 3.0 are described in a new manual. 

The most recent Rubber Ducky seeks to get around these restrictions. The DuckyScript programming language, which is used to construct the commands that the Rubber Ducky will enter into a target machine, receives a significant improvement with it. DuckyScript 3.0 is a feature-rich language that allows users to write functions, store variables, and apply logic flow controls, in contrast to earlier versions that were primarily limited to scripting keystroke sequences (i.e., if this... then that).

This implies that, for instance, the new Ducky can check to see if it is hooked into a Windows or Mac computer and then conditionally run code specific to each one, or it can disable itself if it has been attached to the incorrect target. In order to provide a more human effect, it can also generate pseudorandom numbers and utilize them to add a configurable delay between keystrokes.

The ability to steal data from a target computer by encoding it in binary code and transferring it through the signals intended to instruct a keyboard when the CapsLock or NumLock LEDs should light up is perhaps its most astounding feature. By using this technique, a hacker may plug it in for a brief period of time, excuse themselves by saying, "Sorry, I think that USB drive is faulty," and then take it away with all the credentials stored on it.

HOW SERIOUS IS THE RISK?

In other words, it may be a significant one, but because physical device access is required, the majority of people aren't at risk of being a target.

The 500 or so new Rubber Duckies that Hak5 brought to Def Con, according to Kitchen, were his company's most popular item at the convention, and they were all gone on the first day. It's safe to suppose that hundreds of hackers already possess one, and demand is likely to persist for some time.

Additionally, it has an online development toolkit that can be used to create attack payloads, compile them, and then load them onto the target device. A "payload hub" part of the website makes it simple for hackers to share what they've generated, and the Hak5 Discord is also busy with conversation and helpful advice. This makes it simple for users of the product to connect with a larger community.

It's too expensive for most individuals to distribute in volume, so unless your favorite cafe is renowned for being a hangout among vulnerable targets, it's doubtful that someone will leave a few of them there. To that end, if you intend to plug in a USB device that you discovered outside in a public area, pause to consider your decision.

WOULD IT WORK FOR ME?

Although the device is quite straightforward to use, there are a few things that could cause you trouble if you have no prior expertise writing or debugging code. For a while, during testing on a Mac, I was unable to get the Ducky to press the F4 key to activate the launchpad, but after forcing it to identify itself using an alternative Apple keyboard device ID, the problem was resolved.

From there, I was able to create a script that, when the Ducky was plugged in, would instantly run Chrome, open a new browser tab, and then immediately close it once more without requiring any action from the laptop user. Not bad for only a few hours of testing, and something that could be readily changed to perform duties other than reading technology news.