Security Experts:

Devices From Many Vendors Can Be Hacked Remotely Due to Flaws in Realtek SDK

A large number of IoT systems could be exposed to remote hacker attacks due to serious vulnerabilities found in software development kits (SDKs) provided to device manufacturers by Taiwan-based semiconductor company Realtek.

Firmware security company IoT Inspector said its researchers have identified more than a dozen vulnerabilities in SDKs provided by Realtek to companies that use its RTL8xxx chips. The security flaws can be exploited to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition and for command injection, and some of them can be leveraged by remote attackers to take complete control of a targeted device, without requiring authentication.

According to IoT Inspector, an internet search revealed nearly 200 unique types of affected devices from a total of 65 different vendors, including IP cameras, routers, residential gateways, Wi-Fi repeaters, and toys. The list of impacted manufacturers and vendors includes ASUS, Belkin, D-Link, Huawei, LG, Logitech, Netgear, ZTE and Zyxel.

The security firm noted that if the impacted vendors sold, on average, 5,000 devices of each affected model, the vulnerabilities would expose nearly one million systems to remote attacks.

The vulnerabilities are tracked as CVE-2021-35392 through CVE-2021-35395, and they have been assigned critical and high severity ratings. They have been found to impact Realtek’s Jungle, Luna and 2.x branch SDKs. Realtek has released patches for the Jungle and Luna SDKs, but the 2.x branch, which is more than a decade old, is no longer supported.

The issues were reported to Realtek in mid-May and the company started creating patches a few weeks later. It released a security advisory late last week. IoT Inspector published a blog post detailing its findings on Monday.

“As awareness for supply chain transparency is on the rise among security experts, this example is a pretty good showcase of the vast implications of an obscure IoT supply chain,” IoT Inspector said in its blog post. “As opposed to recent supply chain attacks such as Kaseya or Solar Winds, where perpetrators went to great lengths to infiltrate the vendor’s release processes and place hidden backdoors in product updates, this example is far less sophisticated – and probably way more common.”

Earlier this year, researchers warned that a Wi-Fi module from Realtek had significant vulnerabilities that exposed many devices to remote attacks.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.