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Huawei USB modems vulnerable

Drivers, config, updates all dangerous

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Huawei has been accused of poor security practice by Russian researcher Nikita Tarakanov, who told Black Hat Europe last week that the vendor's 3G and 4G devices are vulnerable and its update server is a massive attack vector.

The update server in the Netherlands that Tarakanov tested probably isn't the only one used by Huawei, but he found it was running on the hoary code of Windows IIS 6.0 – a relic from Windows Server 2003. If the server were compromised, he said, an attacker could distribute a malicious update to millions of dongle users.

While the executable the USB keys run is signed, he says the modems' plaintext configuration files are another matter: easy to modify in ways that would point the modems to malicious software. Two examples given in Network World are that an attacker could change the DNS the modems use, pointing users to malicious Websites; and a built-in anti-virus installer parameter, which could be modified to install malicious software.

There are also privilege escalation vulnerabilities under both Windows and OS X. According to The H Security, the latter vulnerability was a last-second addition to the presentation after iOS researcher Stefan Esser discovered and tweeted it from the conference: the Huawei OS X update app (ouc.app) has unrestricted access to /usr/local.

"Can anyone verify that the Telekom LTE Stick from Huawei makes /usr/local world writable on OSX? WTF?", Esser posted.

While the research was conducted in Russia, Tarakanov believes the vulnerabilities aren't specific to that country. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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