Feeds

Rootkits on routers threat to be demoed

Networks own3d

High performance access to file storage

Updated Security researchers have devised a rootkit capable of covertly monitoring and controlling Cisco routers.

Sebastian Muniz, of Core Security, plans to demo Cisco IOS rootkit software he developed during a presentation at the EuSecWest conference in London on 22 May.

Rootkits are malicious packages used to hide the presence of malware on compromised systems. Generally such packages are designed to allow Trojan backdoors on desktop computer or servers to escape detection by anti-virus scanners. The technology started off in the toolboxes of Unix hackers, but over the last three or four years, it has become more commonly associated with compromised Windows systems. The issue of Windows rootkits rose to public prominence after Sony BMG Music (rather inadvisedly) used rootkit-like technology in a bid to prevent unauthorised CD copying.

Muniz's is reckoned to be the first researcher to apply rootkits to systems running Cisco IOS software. His work builds on the pioneering work of security researcher Michael Lynn, who controversially demonstrated interactive shell code for Cisco’s proprietary Internetworking Operating System (IOS) during Blackhat 2005.

Muniz has developed techniques for applying rootkit technology to embedded systems, such as routers running Cisco IOS. He is due to repeat a demo of his software at the Black Hat conference in Vegas in August, as an abstract for his proposed talk explains.

Different ways to infect a target IOS will be shown like run-time patching and image binary patching. To discuss the binary patching technique from a practical point of view, a set of Python scripts that provides a the methods to insert a generic rootkit implementation called DIK (Da Ios rootKit) will be introduced and it's done in plain C for IOS. Also other techniques like run-time image infection will be discussed in detail.

"An IOS rootkit is able to perform the tasks that any other rootkit would do on desktop computer operating systems," Muniz told IDG. Hackers hoping to plant the rootkit would first need to obtain admin login credentials so that they could install software on networking devices, perhaps by using a separate exploit. But once planted such rootkits could be used to carry out all sorts of mischief.

Muniz doesn't intend to release his software. He hopes his talk will dispel the belief that rootkits for networking kit are impossible in the same way that Lynn's talk showed how it might be possible to plant malware onto routers. Muniz explained: "I've done this with the purpose of showing that IOS rootkits are real, and that appropriate security measures must be taken". ®

Update

In a statement sent to subscribers of Cisco's security mailing list early on Friday the networking giant said it was closely monitoring Muniz's rootkit research, which he has shared with the IT heavyweight. Cisco downplayed talk about possible exploits based on the approach while advising network admins to follow best practice in securing their systems.

The Cisco PSIRT is aware of new, ongoing research on the topic of third party malicious code (also known as "rootkits") running on Cisco IOS devices. Cisco Systems is currently in the process of analyzing the information available to us on the issue. We will update this security response as more information becomes available.

As of the time of this posting, there has been no indication of the discovery of a new vulnerability in Cisco IOS. To the best of our knowledge, there is no exploit code available and Cisco Systems has not received any customer reports of exploitation.

Cisco recommends following industry best-practices to improve the security of all network devices. Risks against Cisco IOS devices can be mitigated by following the best practices detailed in the document titled "Cisco Guide to Harden Cisco IOS Devices", which is available here.

Cisco went on to thank Muniz and Core Security for working with it "towards the goal of keeping Cisco networks and the internet, as a whole, secure".

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.