Vulnerabilities / Threats

9/6/2016
05:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Cryptographic Key Reuse Remains Widespread In Embedded Products

Nine months after SEC Consult warned about the reuse of private keys and certificates in routers, modems, other products, problem has grown worse.

Nine months after application security services provider SEC Consult warned about widespread reuse of cryptographic credentials in embedded products like Internet routers, gateways and modems, the problem only appears to have gotten worse, not better.

In an alert this week, SEC Consult said the number of web devices with known private keys for HTTPS server certificates has shot up 40 percent from last November when the company first warned about the issue. From 3.2 million devices in November 2015, the number of IPv4 hosts using a known private key now stands at 4.7 million currently.

Along with its alert, SEC Consult this week also released on GitHub a total of 331 HTTPS server certificates along with their matching private keys, that are available to anyone via an Internet scan. The security firm also released a list of products using the publicly available certificates and keys.

The data gives researchers an opportunity to verify SEC Consult’s conclusions and find for themselves more cases of cryptographic key reuse and keys that are attributable to specific products and vendors.

“Releasing the private keys is not something we take lightly as it allows global adversaries to exploit this vulnerability class on a large scale,” SEC Consult said in its alert. “However we think that any determined attacker can repeat our research and get the private keys from publicly available firmware with ease.”

The security implications of cryptographic key reuse is substantial, says Johannes Greil, head of SEC Consult’s vulnerability lab, in comments to Dark Reading. Devices using cryptographic keys that are known publicly, are susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks including those where an attacker can alter allegedly secure connections without any one noticing.

The big problem here is that vendors of embedded products often leave hardcoded SSH keys and HTTPS server certificates in their devices so as to enable web access to the devices and for use by other protocols such as EAP/802.1X or FTPS, he says.

But since these keys and certificates are the same across multiple products, they are relatively easy to exploit, Greil says.

SEC Consult’s alert follows one from last November when it first drew attention to the problem of widespread certificate and key reuse on the Internet.

In its initial study, SEC Consult analyzed the firmware on more than 4,000 embedded devices from over 70 vendors. The company examined the use of cryptographic public keys, private keys, and certificates in the firmware images of products like routers, modems, and IP cameras and found more than 580 unique private keys distributed across the devices.

The company correlated the data with data from Internet-wide scans using Scans.io and Censys.io and found that about 150 server certificates from its data set were being used by about 3.2 million hosts and another 80 SSH host keys used by nearly 1 million hosts.

Some keys were found in one product or several products in the same product line. In other cases, SEC Consult found the same keys being used in products from multiple vendors, likely as the result of the keys being shared, leaked or even stolen or because the same product was being sold to different brands.

SEC Consult says it has worked with CERT/CC to notify affected device vendors, ISPs and chipset makers of the issue since August 2015.

The fact that the problem remains widespread despite this outreach shows how difficult it is to get vendors to patch their systems. “It's an industry-wide problem. Many vendors are lazy in regards to providing patches for their devices, [which] once sold, [are] never taken care of anymore, he said. “If there are no industry-wide changes and regulations by law, the problem might never go away.”

Related stories:

 

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
lorraine89
50%
50%
lorraine89,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2016 | 7:21:51 AM
Cyber security
Though encryption is one of the most important data security tool out there at the moment and lies in the category of cryptography but one can not ignore the importance of vpn servers as well. I have been using purevpn server for the past few years and have been thoroughly satisfied with its working as it protects my incoming and outgoing traffic. 
Veterans Find New Roles in Enterprise Cybersecurity
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/12/2018
Understanding Evil Twin AP Attacks and How to Prevent Them
Ryan Orsi, Director of Product Management for Wi-Fi at WatchGuard Technologies,  11/14/2018
7 Free (or Cheap) Ways to Increase Your Cybersecurity Knowledge
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  11/15/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
This report offers insight on how security professionals plan to invest in cybersecurity, and how they are prioritizing their resources. Find out what your peers have planned today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-19326
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-17
Zyxel VMG1312-B10D devices before 5.13(AAXA.8)C0 allow ../ Directory Traversal, as demonstrated by reading /etc/passwd.
CVE-2018-19274
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-17
Passing an absolute path to a file_exists check in phpBB before 3.2.4 allows Remote Code Execution through Object Injection by employing Phar deserialization when an attacker has access to the Admin Control Panel with founder permissions.
CVE-2018-19324
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-17
kimsQ Rb 2.3.0 allows XSS via the second input field to the /?r=home&mod=mypage&page=info URI.
CVE-2018-15769
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-16
RSA BSAFE Micro Edition Suite versions prior to 4.0.11 (in 4.0.x series) and versions prior to 4.1.6.2 (in 4.1.x series) contain a key management error issue. A malicious TLS server could potentially cause a Denial Of Service (DoS) on TLS clients during the handshake when a very large prime value is...
CVE-2018-18955
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-16
In the Linux kernel 4.15.x through 4.19.x before 4.19.2, map_write() in kernel/user_namespace.c allows privilege escalation because it mishandles nested user namespaces with more than 5 UID or GID ranges. A user who has CAP_SYS_ADMIN in an affected user namespace can bypass access controls on resour...