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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityproofpoint

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Reseller News honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand channel at the 2018 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards honoured standout individuals across seven categories, spanning Entrepreneur; Innovation; Rising Star; Shining Star; Community; Technical and Achievement.

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel
Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Microsoft honoured leading partners across the channel following a year of customer innovation and market growth in New Zealand. The 2018 Microsoft Partner Awards recognised excellence within the context of the end-user, spanning a host of emerging and established providers.

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners
Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Introducing the Reseller News Innovation Awards, launched to the channel at the 2018 Judges’ Lunch in Auckland. With more than 70 judges now part of the voting panel, the new-look awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors.

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch
Show Comments