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Vulnerabilities / Threats

6/17/2015
03:25 PM
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No End In Sight For Exposed Internet Of Things, Other Devices

New data from an Internet-scanning project shows vulnerable consumer and enterprise systems remain a big problem on the public Net.

HD Moore has been scanning the Internet for more than three years now in search of exposed devices and systems, and his latest research has one big takeaway: these sitting-duck systems are more widespread than ever.

"It's getting worse," says Moore, chief security architect at Rapid7 and the creator of Metasploit. Moore was scheduled to present at Rapid7's UNITED conference in Boston today the latest findings from Project Sonar, a Rapid7-backed community project that scans the Net for vulnerable devices and systems.

Moore, who spoke with Dark Reading prior to his presentation, says one reason for a spike in exploitable nodes is that a few dozen Internet service providers are rolling out broadband devices such as home routers without properly vetting or properly configuring the security of those consumer devices.

Over the years, Moore has exposed major holes in embedded devices, home routers, corporate videoconferencing systems, web servers, and other equipment on the public Internet, all of which harbor weaknesses such as default backdoor-type access, default passwords, exposed ports, broken firewall rules, and other security holes ripe for the picking by bad guys. Project Sonar specifically scans IPv4-based equipment on the Net.

One glaring example of exposed devices found most recently by Project Sonar scans are millions of voice-over-IP SIP phones, gateways, and routers: and close to half of the 15 million exposed devices reside in Germany. Moore says the offending equipment was the Fritz!Box router device sold by AVM and used by Deutsche Telecom, as well as AVM-based equipment used by Telefonica Germany and Vodafone DSL.

The devices could be abused by attackers to wage DDoS attacks, for example, or to gain shell access, he says.

Moore says this is an example of the dangers of a "monoculture" of technology in one region. One in 12 Germans uses a Fritz!Box router with SIP wide open to the Net. With one vendor supplying much of the firmware--AVM--users in Germany become a potential target for a wide-scale attack, he says.

AVM Fritz!Box home routers were targeted last year via a command-execution flaw that let the attackers make expensive international calls via the devices, for example. And the firmware appears to have other bugs as well, thanks to some older libraries it uses, according to Moore.

In the US, meanwhile, there's more of a mix of vulnerable device types, as shown in the Project Sonar's scans. Take Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), for example, which is often enabled by default in printers, routers, network-attached storage, IP cameras, smart TVs, and video game consoles: in 2014, one-fourth of all Internet-facing UPnP SSDP services were vulnerable to a stack overflow bug in MiniUPNPd, a flaw that was discovered in 2012, according to Project Sonar's findings.

Project Sonar found a "spike" in devices vulnerable to that flaw the end of last year, as well as a jump in devices vulnerable to the two-year-old libupnp stack overflow bug. In April of this year, there were more devices on the public Internet vulnerable to that bug than in June of last year.

Moore says that demonstrates how vulnerability trends "are going the wrong direction."

There was a slight bit of good news, however, about servers with the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), which Moore and researcher Dan Farmer had previously found exposed en masse. Moore in 2013 found around 300,000 servers exposed on the public Net via the IPMI interface, but that number dropped to 250,000 in June of last year, and then to around 210,000 as of January 2015.

The bad news: Project Sonar found that 50% of the IPMI devices it communicated with support anonymous authentication.

Moore in 2013 found that the IPMI protocol as well as the Baseband Management Controllers packaged with most servers for remote management purposes contained serious flaws, some of which Farmer had exposed earlier that year. The flaws could allow an attacker to steal data from attached storage devices, install backdoors in the servers, alter the operating system, and launch denial-of-service attacks, for example.

It's time to "break this culture" of vendors and service providers using products with insecure features and flaws, Moore says.

 

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
 

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