Powerline communication (PLC) is a form of … Powerline communication (PLC) is a form of data transfer, where the electric infrastructure
is used for both power supply and network connection. PLC can be employed in
industrial or home environments. In home environments, powerline is used to extend the
internet connectivity through the house’s electric infrastructure. Powerline adapters are
connected to a house’s power sockets, and these adapters provide connectivity throughout
the house. A router is linked to one of the adapters to establish the connection, and other
adapters are used to decode the powerline signal. These adapters provide an easy manner
to extend a home network without the use of various routers, Wi-Fi, repeaters or new cables.
In industrial environments, PLC is used (for example) to provide real time data about
the electric consumption in the electric grid, allowing fine control of the required/used
electricity. With this control, electric suppliers produce electricity more efficiently, reducing
production costs and prices for the final consumers. Device manufacturers created
alliances to standardize their products, developing protocols and guidelines to this effect.
We present a summary of some of these standards. These protocols include security measures
in their specifications (like cryptography), but some protocols have already been
proven unsafe. In this work, we study the HomePlug protocol which is commonly used
to extend connectivity inside homes. We describe a design vulnerability present in the
HomePlug, in one of the cryptographic key exchange mechanisms. An attacker who listens
to the medium can steal the critical network keys. To prove this vulnerability, we
created a malicious adaptor by updating it with malicious firmware. Although we ran a
large battery of tests in the adaptor, we were unable to prove the vulnerability. Nevertheless,
we provide an insight on a series of attacks that can be done using a malicious
adaptor as an attack point, which can be used in the future to extend this work. be used in the future to extend this work.