Alert issued over plain text passwords in some Super Micro motherboards

A scan of the Internet showed more than 31,000 servers are vulnerable

Tens of thousands of servers have a hard-coded, plain-text password that could yield remote access to a management interface for a server, according to a security researcher.

The problem is within a baseband management controller (BMC) in the WPCM450 line of chips incorporated into motherboards made by Super Micro, wrote Zachary Wikholm, senior security engineer for Cari.net, a server and cloud computing company.

Baseboard management controllers are part of intelligent platform management interfaces (IPMI), which collect information on the health of the hardware and software data.

"You can quite literally download the BMC password file from any UPnP-enabled Super Micro motherboard running IPMI on a public interface," Wikholm wrote.

The plain text password can be downloaded by connecting to port 49152 on vulnerable servers, wrote Tony Carothers of the SANS Internet Storm Center, which monitors emerging security threats.

"One of our team has tested this vulnerability, and it works like a champ, so let's add another log to the fire and spread the good word," Carothers wrote on Thursday.

Super Micro no longer uses the WPCM450 chips, Wikholm wrote. But a scan of the Internet using Shodan, a specialized search engine for finding embedded systems, indicated 31,964 affected systems were online.

An analysis of the passwords available for download shows thousands were very weak or the default ones.

"It gets a bit scarier when you review some of the password statistics," Wikholm wrote. "Out of those passwords, 3,296 are the default combination. Since I'm not comfortable providing too much password information, I will just say that there exists a subset of this data that either contains or just was 'password'."

Wikholm wrote that when he told Super Micro about the issue, the company said that a UPnP issue had been patched with the latest IPMI BIOS version, but apparently a system needs to be "flashed" for that be installed. Flashing "is not always a possibility," Wikholm wrote.

Super Micro could not immediately be reached for comment.

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

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