“When people don’t see stuff on Google, they think no one can find it. That’s not true.”
That’s according to John Matherly, creator of Shodan, the scariest search engine on the Internet.
Unlike Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), which crawls the Web looking for websites, Shodan navigates the Internet’s back channels. It’s a kind of “dark” Google, looking for the servers, webcams, printers, routers and all the other stuff that is connected to and makes up the Internet. (Shodan’s site was slow to load Monday following the publication of this story.)
Shodan runs 24/7 and collects information on about 500 million connected devices and services each month.
It’s stunning what can be found with a simple search on Shodan. Countless traffic lights, security cameras, home automation devices and heating systems are connected to the Internet and easy to spot.
Shodan searchers have found control systems for a water park, a gas station, a hotel wine cooler and a crematorium. Cybersecurity researchers have even located command and control systems for nuclear power plants and a particle-accelerating cyclotron by using Shodan.
What’s really noteworthy about Shodan’s ability to find all of this — and what makes Shodan so scary — is that very few of those devices have any kind of security built into them.
“It’s a massive security failure,” said HD Moore, chief security officer of Rapid 7, who operates a private version of a Shodan-like database for his own research purposes.