Popular Home Routers Contain Critical Security Vulnerabilities

A study by Independent Security Evaluators shows many home routers are vulnerable to various attacks

By Jeremy Kirk
Thu, April 18, 2013

IDG News Service — Thirteen popular home and small office routers contain security problems that could allow a hacker to snoop or modify network traffic, according to new research.

Independent Security Evaluators (ISE), which is a security consultancy based in Baltimore, found that all of the routers they tested could be taken over if the hacker had access credentials. The tested products came from Linksys, Belkin, Netgear, Verizon and D-Link.

All of the router models evaluated ran their company's latest firmware and were tested with their default, out-of-the-box configurations. Consumers have few options for mitigating the attacks, ISE said in its report.

"Successful mitigation often requires a level of sophistication and skill beyond that of the average user," ISE said.

Compromised routers are quite valuable to hackers, since it allows them to intercept the traffic of anyone on that network. If the traffic is unencrypted, it can be viewed.

Man-in-the-middle attacks can let a hacker launch more sophisticated attacks on all users in the router's domain, ISE said. Hackers can perform attacks such as sniffing and rerouting non-SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) traffic, tampering with DNS (Domain Name System) settings and conducting distributed denial-of-service attacks.

ISPs deploying large numbers of vulnerable routers could also give hackers a way into their own core infrastructure, ISE wrote.

ISE listed a few of the routers it studied, writing that it has notified vendors and worked in some cases on mitigations. It did not list product details for five of the routers, presumably because patches have not been released.

The consultancy divided the attacks into those which required an attacker to be on the same network and those on networks that could be attacked remotely. Two routers from Belkin, the N300 and N900, were vulnerable to a remote attack that did not require the hacker to have authentication credentials.

All of the named products were vulnerable to an authenticated attack if the hacker was on the same network and had login credentials or access to a victim who had an active session on the particular network.

Those products were the Linksys WRT310v2, Netgear's WNDR4700, TP-Link's WR1043N, Verizon's FiOS Actiontec MI424WR-GEN3I, D-Link's DIR865L and Belkin's N300, N900 and F5D8236-4 v2 models.

ISE advised vendors to upgrade vulnerable firmware and send registered product users upgrade instructions.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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