Backdoor account replaced by another backdoor in vendor stumble

The issue has been fixed but raises questions over how companies manage vulnerability reports

A company that makes video conferencing products replaced one serious security vulnerability with another, despite being warned of the dangers.

AMX Harman, which makes a variety of audio-visual and building control equipment, has patched the problem. But on Thursday SEC Consult, an information security firm in Vienna, revealed what it says is the back story.

Last March, SEC Consult warned AMX that it had found a secret account in certain versions of the NX-1200, an appliance for controlling audio-visual systems.

The hidden account used the username Black Widow, and SEC Consult said it found the password as well by studying the appliance's authentication procedures.

amx black widow account

The credentials can be used to gain broad access to the device, including the web-based management and command line interfaces. A hacker would also be able to capture packets, SEC Consult wrote.

The account appears to have been intentionally created, Johannes Greil, head of SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab, said via email.

"The backdoor is quite critical, because it seems to be deliberate and not some leftover from developers," he wrote. "The system tries to actively hide it from user management interfaces and the backdoor account even has more privileges than an admin account."

The finding by SEC Consult is worrying since AMX has a significant government business. In a photo on its website, it shows a photo of U.S. President Barack Obama with top advisors with the tag line "Room Automation."

amx obama


Although it was notified in March, AMX didn't provide a fix until October. When SEC Consult analyzed the fix, they noticed the "Black Widow" account had simply been changed to a new username.

According to a security brief from AMX, it removed what it called the "debugging account" to prevent a security vulnerability.

SEC Consult said it hasn't checked to see if the latest fix is effective. It did not release the passwords for either of the hidden accounts.

A more detailed advisory from SEC Consult says that backdoors affect many other products besides the NX-1200. AMX officials could not immediately reached for comment.

Now that the issue has ostensibly been resolved, SEC Consult wrote that its contact at AMX said the company "will be starting a major security initiative."

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.
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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?