WiMax router vulnerability lets hackers track customers’ internet activities

A number of WiMAX routers have been flagged for featuring vulnerabilities that may allow hackers to gain access to devices and change passwords.

WiMAX routers built by GreenPacket, Huawei, MADA, ZTE and ZyXEL feature vulnerabilities which hackers can exploit to track users.

A report published by security firm SEC Consult explains the true nature of vulnerabilities in such WiMAX routers and how hackers can get around authentication settings to spy on users. The news comes not long after it came to light that a large number of Linksys routers were carrying as many as ten low to high-risk vulnerabilities that could seriously endanger confidential data of their owners and could also impact their access to Wi-Fi services as a result.

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"SEC Consult has found a vulnerability in several WiMAX routers, distributed by WiMAX ISPs to subscribers. The vulnerability allows an attacker to change the password of the admin user. An attacker can gain access to the device, access the network behind it and launch further attacks, add devices into a Mirai-like botnet or just simply spy on the user," said the firm.

According to the report, hackers can easily change administrator passwords and use web interfaces to change DNS servers, upload malicious firmware or monitor a WiMAX customer's internet activity.

"Based on the information we got from internet-wide scan data, we know that a lot of devices expose a web server on the WAN interface. This is caused by a misconfiguration or more likely carelessness by the ISPs that provide WiMAX gateways to customers. Web interfaces are usually a good place to hunt for vulnerabilities," the report said.

Mirai cyber attack causes internet problems for 900,000 German users

Researchers at SEC Consult also believe that hackers may use the Mirai botnet malware to exploit vulnerabilities in affected WiMax routers. Mirai botnet is a type of malware used to gain control of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and has previously been used by hackers to disrupt popular services and websites including Amazon, Netflix and Spotify.

Back in December, as many as 900,000 German internet users were knocked offline when hackers tried to use the Mirai botnet to hijack routers supplied by Deutsche Telekom.

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The WiMAX router vulnerability is one of many serious risks faced by the IoT industry at present. Researchers at cyber security firm BullGuard believe that nearly 200 million Internet of Things (IoT) devices could be vulnerable to hackers. According to their calculations, 4.6 percent of all connected devices are flawed.

“When you build a device, as an industry that threat modelling needs to happen at the start of the process, not the end,” Huawei’s European cyber security officer David Francis said at the FT Cyber Security Summit. “It needs to be built in, not bolted on.”