Menu
Hackers exploit router flaws in unusual pharming attack

Hackers exploit router flaws in unusual pharming attack

The attack changes the DNS settings of a router using default login credentials, Proofpoint said

An email-based attack spotted in Brazil recently employed an unusual but potent technique to spy on a victim's Web traffic.

The technique exploited security flaws in home routers to gain access to the administrator console. Once there, the hackers changed the routers' DNS (Domain Name System) settings, a type of attack known as pharming.

Pharming is tricky to pull off because it requires access to an ISP's or an organization's DNS servers, which translate domain names into the IP addresses of websites. Those DNS systems are typically well-protected, but home routers often are not.

Security firm Proofpoint wrote in a blog post Thursday that launching the attack via email was a novel approach since pharming is normally a network-based attack.

"This case is striking for several reasons, not the least of which is the introduction of phishing as the attack vector to carry out a compromise traditionally considered purely network-based," the company wrote, adding that it showed "the continued pre-eminence of email as the go-to attack vector for cybercriminals."

A successful pharming attack means users can be diverted to a fraudulent website even when they enter a correct domain name. It also means an attacker can perform a man-in-the-middle attack, such as intercepting email, logins and passwords for websites, and hijacking search results, among other things.

Proofpoint said it detected about 100 phishing emails sent mostly to Brazilians who used either UTStarcom or TR-Link home routers. The emails purported to be from Brazil's largest telecommunications company.

They contained malicious links, and clicking one directed the victim to a server that attacked their router. The server was set up to exploit cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in routers,

If the attack was successful, the hackers gained access to the administrator control panel of the router. They then entered default login credentials for the device, hoping that the user hadn't changed them

If that worked, they changed the router's setting to their own DNS server. Any computer connected to that router "would potentially have their computer query a malicious DNS server to look up any hostname on the Internet."

Although users are dependent on their router manufacturer to issue patches for CSRF flaws, there is another defense, which is old security advice: change the default password on your router.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags proofpointsecurity

Featured

Slideshows

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Show Comments