WiFi DSL routers have become a staple part of all professional computing setups. Unfortunately, wireless communication also introduces numerous vulnerabilities. A massive backdoor was found in popular NetGear, Linksys/Cisco and SerComm WiFi DSL modems back in December 2013. Security patches released by the companies have not solved the problem.
More than 20 popular models sold worldwide have been found to possess the vulnerability. Once remotely in control of the router via a compromised port, the hacker can gain “root shell” access and send malicious commands to the device.
Thousands of customers were expecting to mitigate the problem with the patch, but the desired result was not achieved. Owners of the vulnerable routers will have to adopt a pro-active approach to safeguard their networks since the backdoor still exists.
Security expert Eloi Vanderbeken, who exposed the original backdoor last year, did the follow-up research that revealed the ineffectiveness of the security patch. He is claiming this was a deliberate “feature” added by the manufacturers and that the security patch was not released to eliminate the backdoor, but just mask it to curb the customer backlash.
Vanderbeken has demonstrated how the problematic backdoor binary “scrgmgr” is still alive and kicking in his latest POC. Despite minor masking additions made to the code, it’s still possible to activate IPC sockets and receive packets to re-activate the backdoor. The router can then be pinged and manipulated as per the hacker’s requirements.
CISOs and Security Officials must implement the following steps to safeguard their networks:
Router manufacturers should also have security in mind while developing their software, something that can minimize the need for post-production damage control and security patches. This can be achieved by promoting secure Software Development Life-Cycles (sSDLC) environment and integrating security testing into the loop as early as possible.
Source Code Analysis (SCA) is a great way to achieve these goals. Vulnerabilities are eliminated early, with the automated testing saving resources and cutting production times. SCA can ALSO serve as an effective QA tool for complex and complicated coded scripts, fully integrated with testing tools and software.
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