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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, JP Morgenthal

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Tripwire Study: 80 Percent of Best-Selling Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) Wireless Routers Have Security Vulnerabilities

RSA Booth 3501— Tripwire, Inc., a leading global provider of risk-based security and compliance management solutions, today announced the results of an extensive analysis of security vulnerabilities in Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) wireless routers. As part of the research, Tripwire sponsored a study of 653 IT and security professionals and 1,009 employees who work remotely in the U.S. and U.K. Collectively, this research strongly shows that critical security vulnerabilities are endemic across the entire SOHO wireless router market, and a surprising number of IT professionals and employees who work remotely do not use basic security controls to protect their wireless routers. SOHO wireless router security vulnerabilities present significant cybersecurity risks to employees and enterprise networks.

Routers are an ideal target for cyberattackers because they can be used to eavesdrop on traffic sent to and from nearby enterprise access points. After an attacker has gained control of a router, they are able to monitor, redirect, block or otherwise tamper with a wide range of online activities. Once a router is compromised, devices guarded by the router’s firewall become targets for additional network-based attacks. Even technically oriented users find it difficult to identify a wireless router cyberattack because router user interfaces are minimal, and the traffic sent from a compromised device to cyberattackers is typically invisible.

Tripwire’s Vulnerability and Exposure Research Team (VERT) has analyzed the security provided by the most popular wireless routers used in many small and home offices and found that 80 percent of Amazon’s top 25 best-selling SOHO wireless router models have security vulnerabilities. Of the top 50 best-selling routers, 34 percent have publicly documented exploits that make it relatively simple for attackers to craft either highly targeted attacks or general attacks targeting every vulnerable system they can find.

A few key security practices can help users can effectively limit wireless router cyberattacks. However, Tripwire’s study of wireless router security practices among IT professionals and employees who access corporate networks from remote locations shows that these practices are not widely used.

Key study findings include:

  • 30 percent of IT professionals and 46 percent of employees do not change the default administrator password on their wireless routers. With access to the configuration interface, attackers can easily compromise the device.
  • 55 percent of IT professionals and 85 percent of employees do not change the default Internet Protocol (IP) address on their wireless routers, making Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks much easier for cyberattackers.
  • 43 percent of IT professionals and 54 percent of employees use Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) – an insecure standard that makes it simple for attackers to discover a router’s encryption passphrase, regardless of its complexity or strength.
  • 52 percent of IT professionals and 59 percent of employees have not updated the firmware on their routers to the latest version, so even when security updates from router vendors are available, most users do not receive the additional protection.

“VERT’s research and SANS recent discovery of ‘The Moon’ worm currently infecting exposed Linksys routers indicates that threats to routers will continue to increase as malicious actors recognize how much information can be gained by attacking these devices,” said Craig Young, security researcher for Tripwire. “Unfortunately, users don’t change the default administrator passwords or the default IPs in these devices and this behavior, along with the prevalence of authentication bypass vulnerabilities, opens the door for widespread attacks through malicious web sites, browser plugins, and smartphone applications.”

Additional Resources:

SOHO Wireless Router Research Whitepaper

Top six security tips for wireless routers

Router Security Best Practices study results

About Tripwire

Tripwire is a leading global provider of risk-based security and compliance management solutions, enabling enterprises, government agencies and service providers to effectively connect security to their business. Tripwire provides the broadest set of foundational security controls including security configuration management, vulnerability management, file integrity monitoring, log and event management. Tripwire solutions deliver unprecedented visibility, business context and security business intelligence allowing extended enterprises to protect sensitive data from breaches, vulnerabilities, and threats. Learn more at www.tripwire.com, get security news, trends and insights at http://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/ or follow us on Twitter @TripwireInc.

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