Many vulnerabilities in older Huawei 3G routers won't get patched

Although users are at risk, the devices aren't supported by Huawei anymore

Huawei doesn't plan to patch more than a dozen models of 3G routers that have severe software vulnerabilities.

The flaws could allow an attacker to change DNS (Domain Name System) settings, upload new firmware without logging into the device and conduct a denial-of-service attack.

The models of affected routers, distributed by ISPs in 21 countries, are now considered out of Huawei's support cycle, said Pierre Kim, a security researcher who found the issues and listed the models on his blog.

Router vulnerabilities can be used by attackers to reroute people to bogus websites that appear to be legitimate, monitor web browsing and do other misdeeds.

Kim's research focused on Huawei's B260a model, which was distributed at one time by Tunisia Telecom. The same firmware, however, was used in more than a dozen other router models, he said. The firmware analyzed by Kim was last updated on Feb. 20, 2013.

ISPs that distributed Huawei's routers also modified the firmware in order to provide customized user interfaces, Kim said. He said he analyzed firmware for Huawei routers from different ISPs, and all contained the same underlying problems.

Kim found that the B260a also stores the administrator name and password in cleartext in a cookie, which could be read by attackers. He also discovered it was possible to get the password for the router's Wi-Fi without authentication.

In short, the router was "overall badly designed with a lot of vulnerabilities," he wrote.

Huawei was notified of the issues in August and quickly responded, but said it did not plan to distribute patches.

Even if the company did want to patch, it would be hard since the ISPs distribute the firmware for the routers. Huawei doesn't offer a copy of it on its website, Kim said in an email interview.

"It's why updating this kind of device is very difficult," he said.

Kim's writeup said the routers were distributed in Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Niger, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Tunisia.

All of the affected models provide Internet service via a SIM card, which is inserted into the device, making them ideal for places with poor or nonexistent wired connectivity.

Huawei may have little economic incentive to update older routers as it has brought newer models to market, Kim said.

"I really thought Huawei would release security patches, and I think they should patch these routers," he said. "Now, I'm aware we are living in a capitalist world. They will not gain money by patching 'old' devices."

Huawei officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?