Dangerous 'Misfortune Cookie' flaw discovered in 12 million home routers

Around 200 models affected going back to 2002, says Check Point

Researchers at Check Point have discovered a serious security vulnerability affecting at least 12 million leading-brand home and SME routers that appears to have gone unnoticed for over a decade.

Dubbed the 'Misfortune Cookie' flaw, the firm plans to give a detailed account of the issue at a forthcoming security conference but in the meantime it's important to stress that no real-world attacks using it have yet been detected.

That said, an attacker exploiting the flaw would be able to monitor all data travelling through a gateway such as files, emails and logins and have the power to infect connected devices with malware. Man-in-the-middle attacks would also be possible, according to Check Point.

The precise source of the issue is not known - a chipset software development kit (SDK) is suspected - but Check Point warned that up to 200 unpatched models using the RomPager embedded web server software (which uses a remote service called TR-069) prior to version 4.34 were probably vulnerable.

As to which products are affected, this is where it gets a little complicated. Check Point estimates that at least 12 million devices are affected across the world but suggested this could be an underestimate.

Given the popularity of RomPager and the list of affected brands - D-Link, Edimax, Huawei, TP-Link, ZTE, and ZyXEL sold mainly to home users - such pessimism is realistic.

The issue dates back to 2002 but should have been fixed by an update three years later. However, as Check Point notes:

"The patch propagation cycle, however, is incredibly slow (sometimes non-existent) with these types of devices. We can confirm many devices today still ship with the vulnerable version in place," said its research note.

The vulnerability had been designated CVE-2014-9222, but Check Point said that identifying affected devices might not be easy for many users. Some vendors had patched the issue but that fact might not have changed the version number in RomPager software to one later than 4.34.

Exactly what individual router vendors planned to do was hard to know but RomPager itself had been very responsive, Check Point said.

"We believe this is a serious problem that the industry needs to solve; secure automatic software updates should be offered for all modern devices, as a default setting."

Not half. Home routers are known to be a minefield of security problems, many little publicised except to hackers. Security updates are disgracefully rare and even when they do appear users seldom apply them. The best advice is to upgrade this product eevery few years on the assumption that more recent models are likely to have security flaws that as well known.

In April, Tripwire revealed that many popular home routers were riddled with security flaws and lazy default configurations, around the time that Team Cymru revealed that 300,000 routers had been compromised to launch DNS redirection attacks. Back doors and flaws in leading products are now routine even people are distracted by apparently bigger security stories.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityZTED-LinkSME

More about Check PointEdimaxHuaweiTP-LinkTripwireZTEZyXEL

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John E Dunn

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts