Unpatched Belkin Router Could Turn Guest Network Visitors Into Rogue Admins

November 11, 2014 @ 4:40 PM
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2 min read

The “guests” in a guest network aren’t supposed to include cybercriminals, but a recently discovered vulnerability in a Belkin router could allow almost anyone to gain administrator privileges and take over computer systems.

Consulting firm Integrity Labs was among the first to discuss the vulnerability, which affects the Belkin N750 dual-band router. Unless the default settings prohibit the use of unprotected guest networks, tests conducted by Integrity Labs showed how unauthenticated third parties could gain root access through the routers via a module of the Metasploit penetration testing tool.

Belkin already offered a firmware patch for the problem in March, according to a story on The Register, but whether users install it is another matter. Part of the problem is that the N750 is not a new router. This router dates back to 2011, and older equipment isn’t always maintained, especially if there is no reason to believe cybercriminals are breaking into anything. Users should upgrade to F9K1103_WW_1.10.17m as a precaution.

At first, the Belkin router bug looked to be a simple buffer flow problem, according to ThreatPost. After nearly six months’ work, however, Integrity Labs discovered that cybercriminals could make their way past guest network login screens and take over devices.

Routers are quickly becoming a major attack vector for all kinds of potential harm. Besides guest networks, four of five wireless routers used in consumer homes could be infiltrated by cybercriminals, according to recent research by Avast.

As reported on BetaNews, typical techniques are using fake sites that fool users into entering passwords or other information to hijack a router’s domain name server. Within the past few months, security experts have noticed exploits like these involving malware injected into websites, or “malvertising,” or via iFrames in other well-known sites.

These problems are by no means limited to Belkin routers, either. Earlier this month, Cisco announced patches to vulnerabilities on its RV routers, which are aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses.

A story on TechWorld said the vulnerabilities included a hole that could allow cybercriminals to enter through the router’s online diagnostics page and create rogue admin accounts that could control a device.

Hopefully, as more research comes to light and more people start to recognize the dangers, they will be more proactive in fending off attackers. To get started, Yahoo Tech recently published a 10-point list on beefing up router security and a revealing poll on how people approach it today.

Image Source: Flickr

Shane Schick
Writer & Editor
Shane Schick is a contributor for SecurityIntelligence.