Worm infects unpatched Ubiquiti wireless devices

The vulnerability has been known for almost a year, but many users haven't applied the patches

Routers and other wireless devices made by Ubiquiti Networks have recently been infected by a worm that exploits a year-old remote unauthorized access vulnerability.

The attack highlights one of the major issues with router security: the fact that the vast majority of them do not have an auto update mechanism and that their owners hardly ever update them manually.

The worm creates a backdoor administrator account on vulnerable devices and then uses them to scan for and infect other devices on the same and other networks.

"This is an HTTP/HTTPS exploit that doesn't require authentication," Ubiquiti said in an advisory. "Simply having a radio on outdated firmware and having its http/https interface exposed to the Internet is enough to get infected."

The company has observed attacks against airMAX M Series devices, but AirMAX AC, airOS 802.11G, ToughSwitch, airGateway and airFiber devices running outdated firmware are also affected.

The vulnerability was reported privately to Ubiquiti last year through a bug bounty program and was patched in airMAX v5.6.2, airMAX AC v7.1.3, airOS 802.11G v4.0.4, TOUGHSwitch v1.3.2, airGateway v1.1.5, airFiber AF24/AF24HD 2.2.1, AF5x 3.0.2.1 and AF5 2.2.1. Devices running firmware newer than those versions should be protected.

For airMAX M devices, the company recommends upgrading to the latest 5.6.5 version. However, this version removes support for rc.scripts, so users relying on that functionality should stick with 5.6.4 for the time being.

Using firewall filtering to restrict remote access to the management interface is also highly recommended.

According to researchers from Symantec, after the worm exploits the flaw to create a backdoor account, it adds a firewall rule in order to block legitimate administrators from accessing the Web-based management interface. It also copies itself to the rc.poststart script in order to ensure that it persists across device reboots.

"So far this malware doesn’t seem to perform any other activities beyond creating a back door account, blocking access to the device, and spreading to other routers," the Symantec researchers said in a blog post Thursday. "It’s likely that the attackers behind this campaign may be spreading the worm for the sheer challenge of it. It could also be evidence of an early, exploratory phase of a larger operation."

Ubiquiti Networks has also created a Java-based application that can automatically remove the infection from affected devices. It can be used on Windows, Linux and OS X.

Router security is particularly bad in the consumer market, where large numbers of routers can remain vulnerable to known vulnerabilities for years and can be compromised en masse to create distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) botnets or to launch man-in-the-middle attacks against their users.

In the past, attackers have managed to hijack hundreds of thousands of home routers by simply trying out default or common usernames and passwords. Users should always change the default administrator password when installing their router and should disable remote access to its management interface unless this functionality is needed.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about LinuxSymantecUbiquiti

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

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

Market Place