Experts discovered a flaw in GoAhead that affects hundreds of thousands IoT devices

Pierluigi Paganini December 25, 2017

Experts from Elttam discovered a flaw in GoAhead tiny web server that affects hundreds of thousands IoT devices, it could be exploited to remotely execute malicious code on affected devices.

A vulnerability in the GoAhead tiny web server package, tracked as CVE-2017-17562, affects hundreds of thousands of IoT devices. The GoAhead solution is widely adopted by tech giants, including Comcast, IBM, Boeing, Oracle, D-Link, ZTE, HP, Siemens, and Canon. It is easy to find the tiny web server in almost any IoT device, including printers and routers.

The vulnerability was discovered by experts from the security firm Elttam who devised a method to remotely execute malicious code on devices running the GoAhead web server package. The flaw affects all GoAhead versions before GoAhead 3.6.5.

“This blog post details CVE-2017-17562, a vulnerability which can be exploited to gain reliable remote code execution in all versions of the GoAhead web server < 3.6.5.” reads the analysis published by Elttam

“The vulnerability is a result of Initialising the environment of forked CGI scripts using untrusted HTTP request parameters, and will affect all user’s who have CGI support enabled with dynamically linked executables (CGI scripts). This behavior, when combined with the glibc dynamic linker, can be abused for remote code execution using special variables such as LD_PRELOAD (commonly used to perform function hooking, see preeny).”

Attackers can exploit the vulnerability if the CGI support is enabled with dynamically linked CGI program. Unfortunately, this configuration is quite common.

Elttam reported the vulnerability to Embedthis, the company who developed the web server, that promptly released an update that addresses the flaw.

Now it is important that hardware manufacturers will include the patch in the instances of the GoAhead running into their products, but this process could take a lot of time.

To have an idea of the impact of such flaw it is possible to query the Shodan search engine, a number of devices between 500,000 and 700,000 could be affected.

GoAhead server

Elttam also released a proof-of-concept code that could be used to test if IoT devices are vulnerable to the CVE-2017-17562 flaw.

Such kind of flaws are exploited by IoT malware like BrickerBotMirai, Hajime, and Persirai.

In March, the researcher Pierre Kim revealed that more than 185,000 vulnerable Wi-Fi-connected cameras are exposed to the Internet, due to a flaw in GoAhead server.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  GoAhead,  IoT)

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