In the late November the security firm SEC Consult released details within a blog post of their findings after they had conducted scans of many thousands of embedded devices from almost 70 manufacturers. These devices were found to contain X.509 certificates (defined) and SSH (Secure Shell, defined) private keys (from the public/private key pairs namely Asymmetric Encryption (defined)) which were shared among other similar devices from other manufacturers.
Why Should These Issues Be Considered Important?
If an attacker was located within the same network as one of these embedded devices they could perform a man-in-the-middle attack (MITM, defined) allowing them access to any sensitive information e.g. passwords that are being transmitted on the network at that time.
SEC Consult found that approximately 4 million devices are affected by this issue.
A remote attack (i.e. from an attacker not located within your network namely the wider Internet) is far more difficult to conduct and would require the capabilities discussed within the paragraph titled “What is the impact of the vulnerability?” of SEC Consult’s blog post.
For the full list of affected manufacturers of these devices, please see the paragraph titled “Which vendors/products are affected?” of SEC Consult’s blog post and the “Vendor Information” section of this US CERT article. Finally, for affected Cisco devices, a list of affected device models is provided here.
How Can I Protect Myself From These Issues?
For the end users (consumers) who have purchased or have been provided these devices by their ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) there is no action that can be taken to resolve these issues. Since the vulnerable keys are embedded within the firmware of these devices they cannot easily be updated. In some instances however, an update is possible.
If you own a device manufactured by one of the affected vendors (obtained from the lists linked to above) I would follow US CERT’s advice of contacting the vendor to ask if an update for your device will be made available. You can link to SEC Consult’s blog post and US CERT’s advice if the vendor wishes to seek clarification on the issue/vulnerability you are referring to.
For anyone affected by this issue I hope that the above information is of assistance to you. Thank you.