Advantech industrial serial-to-Internet gateways wide open to unauthorized access

The firmware contains a heavily modified SSH server that accepts any password or authentication key, researchers found

Internet-connected industrial devices could be accessible to anyone, with no password, thanks to a coding error by a gateway manufacturer.

Taiwanese firm Advantech patched the firmware in some of its serial-to-IP gateway devices in October to remove a hard-coded SSH (Secure Shell) key that would have allowed unauthorized access by remote attackers.

But it overlooked an even bigger problem: Any password will unlock the gateways, which are used to connect legacy serial devices to TCP/IP and cellular networks in industrial environments around the world.

Researchers from security firm Rapid7 discovered the vulnerability in the revised firmware, version 1.98, released for the Advantech EKI-1322 Internet protocol (IP) gateway which can connect serial and Ethernet devices to a cellular network.

 

The firmware contains an open-source SSH server called Dropbear that has been heavily modified. As a result of these modifications, it no longer enforces authentication, allowing any user to connect to it with any public key and password, the Rapid7 researchers said in an advisory.

In addition, there might be another backdoor account built in with a hard-coded password, separate from the previously found and removed SSH key, the researchers said.

The new issue was fixed in version 2.00 of the firmware for EKI-1322, released on Dec. 30. Users are advised to update to this version as soon as possible.

Even though only the EKI-1322 firmware was tested, the Rapid7 researchers believe that the same authentication bypass flaw might exist in all other Advantech EKI serial-to-IP gateways.

Advantech advertises such products as a simple way to bring remote management and data accessibility to thousands of industrial devices that cannot natively connect to TCP/IP networks.

However, vulnerabilities like this one highlight the risks of connecting such sensitive equipment to the Internet and the importance of strong network segmentation policies in industrial environments.

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.

Lucian Constantin

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?