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Unpatched Flaw Exposes Netgear Routers to Hacking

Netgear has launched an investigation following reports that some of its routers are affected by a critical vulnerability that can be remotely exploited to hijack the devices.

Netgear has launched an investigation following reports that some of its routers are affected by a critical vulnerability that can be remotely exploited to hijack the devices.

The flaw is believed to affect Netgear R7000, R6400, R8000 and possibly other models. According to CERT/CC, the security hole can be exploited to execute arbitrary commands with root privileges on affected routers by getting the targeted user to visit a specially crafted web page.

Researcher Kalypto Pink pointed out that the exploit could also be delivered via malvertising attacks.

“The vulnerability allows execution of Linux commands by simply appending the command to a URL,” the expert said. “The commands execute with root privileges. This can be used to pop a telnet session, FTP, command your router to attack other computers, or pretty much anything else the malicious user wants to do.”

A proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit for this vulnerability has been made available. Until a patch is released, CERT/CC recommends either discontinuing the use of the vulnerable Netgear routers, or applying a workaround found by Bas van Schaik.

Van Schaik’s temporary fix leverages the flaw itself to disable the device’s web server. However, this fix works only until the router is restarted and the web administration interface is not available during this time.

In an advisory published on Monday, Netgear said it had launched an investigation. The vendor claims it’s constantly monitoring for known and unknown threats.

Users can check if their Netgear router is affected by accessing the following URL:

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http://[router-IP-address]/cgi-bin/;uname$IFS-a

If the page displays anything other than an error or an empty page, the device is vulnerable. In order to prevent attacks, the web server process can be terminated with this command:

http://[router-IP-address]/cgi-bin/;killall$IFS’httpd’

Botnets such as Mirai pose an increasing threat to Internet-connected devices, which is why patching such vulnerabilities – even if only temporarily – is very important.

Related: Netgear Routers Plagued by Serious Vulnerabilities

Related: Serious Flaws Found in Netgear, NUUO Network Video Recorders

Related: Exploits Released for Unpatched Flaws in Netgear Management System

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing 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.

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