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In today’s world, organizations and companies go to great lengths to protect themselves from network breaches. However, even a pinhole is enough for the attackers to intrude into any system.

Last week, routers by Cisco and Huawei were hacked by two separate groups using different methods. Cisco’s routers were hacked using a backdoor attack while Huawei routers were exploited using a much older vulnerability programming code.

An abnormal rise in the Cisco router backdoors

Cisco in the year 2004 had written the IETF proposal for a “lawful intercept” backdoor for their routers. This proposal stated that the law enforcement teams could use the intercept to remotely log in to routers. These routers which are sold to ISPs and other large enterprises would allow the law enforcement agents to wiretap IP networks. These law enforcement agents are supposed to gain such an access only via a court order or other legal access request.

A backdoor is a malware type which can surpass the normal authentication process for accessing any system or application. Some backdoors are legitimate and assist, for instance, manufacturers to regain lost passwords. However, these backdoors can be used by attackers to remotely access the systems without anyone on the system knowing it.

However, later in the year 2010, an IBM security researcher stated that such a protocol would give an easy access to malicious attackers and would take over Cisco IOS routers. Also, the ISPs related to these routers would also end up being hacked. Some undocumented backdoors were discovered in the year 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017.

According to Tom’s Hardware, this year alone, Cisco recorded five different backdoors within their routers, which resulted in a security flaw for the company’s routers. Let’s have a look at the list of undocumented backdoors found and when.

The month of March recorded two backdoors. Firstly, a hardcoded account with the username ‘cisco’, which would have provided an intrusion within more than 8.5 million Cisco routers and switches in a remote mode. Another hardcoded password was found for Cisco’s Prime Collaboration Provisioning (PCP) software. This software is used for the remote installation of Cisco voice and video products.

May revealed another backdoor in Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA) Center. This center is used by enterprises to provision devices across a network.

Further, in the month of June, Cisco’s Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) found a backdoor account. Note that this is a software tool for traffic optimizations in the Wide Area Network (WAN).

The most recent backdoor, found this month, was in the Cisco Policy Suite, which is a software suite for ISPs and large companies that can manage a network’s bandwidth policies. Using this backdoor, the attacker gets a root access to the network with no mitigations against it. However, this backdoor has been patched with Cisco’s software update.

The question that arises from these incidents is whether these backdoors were created accidentally or actually by intruders? The recurrence of such incidents does not paint a good picture of Cisco as a responsible, reliable and trustworthy network for end users.

Botnet built in a day brings down Huawei routers

Researchers from the NewSky security spotted a new botnet last week, which nearly enslaved 18,000 Huawei’s IoT devices within a day.

Botnets are huge networks of enslaved devices and can be used to perform distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), send malicious packets of data to a device, and remotely execute code.

The most striking feature of this huge botnet is that it was built within a day and with a vulnerability which was previously known, as CVE-2017-17215. Anubhav said, “It’s painfully hilarious how attackers can construct big bot armies with known vulns”This botnet was created by a hacker, nicknamed Anarchy, says Ankit Anubhav, security researcher at NewSky security. Other security firms including Rapid7 and Qihoo 360 Netlab also confirmed the existence of this new botnet. They first noticed a huge increase in Huawei’s device scanning.

Anubhav states that the hacker revealed to him an IP list of victims. This list has not been made public yet. He further adds that the same code was released as public in January this year. The same code was used in the Satori and Brickerbot botnets, and also within other botnets based on Mirai botnets (Mirai botnets were used in 2016 to disrupt Internet services across the US on a huge scale).

The NetSky security researcher suspects that Anarchy may be the same hacker known as Wicked, who was linked with the creation of the Owari/Sora botnets. Moreover, Anarchy/Wicked told the researcher that they also plan to start a scan for Realtek router vulnerability CVE-2014-8361, in order to enslave more devices.

After receiving such a warning from the hacker himself, what new security measures will be taken henceforth?
Read more about this Huawei botnet attack on ZDNet.

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