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Chuck Norris Botnet and Broadband Routers
Last week Czech researchers released information on a new worm which
exploits CPE devices (broadband routers) by means such as default
passwords, constructing a large DDoS botnet. Today this story hit
When I raised this issue before in 2007 on NANOG, some other vetted
mailing lists and on CircleID, the consensus was that the vendors will
not change their position on default settings unless "something
happens", I guess this is it, but I am not optimistic on seeing activity
from vendors on this now, either.
CircleID story 1:
CircleID story 2:
The spread of insecure broadband modems (DSL and Cable) is extremely
wide-spread, with numerous ISPs, large and small, whose entire (read
significant portions of) broadband population is vulnerable. In tests
Prof. Randy Vaughn and I conducted with some ISPs in 2007-8 the results
have not been promising.
Further, many of these devices world wide serve as infection mechanisms
for the computers behind them, with hijacked DNS that points end-users
to malicious web sites.
On the ISPs end, much like in the early days of botnets, many service
providers did not see these devices as their responsibility -- even
though in many cases they are the providers of the systems, and these
posed a potential DDoS threat to their networks. As a mind-set,
operationally taking responsibility for devices located at the homes of
end users made no sense, and therefore the stance ISPs took on this
issue was understandable, if irresponsible.
As we can't rely on the vendors, ISPs should step up, and at the very
least ensure that devices they provide to their end users are properly
set up (a significant number of iSPs already pre-configure them for
The Czech researchers have done a good job and I'd like to thank them
for sharing their research with us.
In this article by Robert McMillan, some details are shared in English:
Discovered by Czech researchers, the botnet has been spreading by taking
advantage of poorly configured routers and DSL modems, according to Jan
Vykopal, the head of the network security department with Masaryk
University's Institute of Computer Science in Brno, Czech Republic.
The malware got the Chuck Norris moniker from a programmer's Italian
comment in its source code: "in nome di Chuck Norris," which means "in
the name of Chuck Norris." Norris is a U.S. actor best known for his
martial arts films such as "The Way of the Dragon" and "Missing in Action."
Security experts say that various types of botnets have infected
millions of computers worldwide to date, but Chuck Norris is unusual in
that it infects DSL modems and routers rather than PCs.
It installs itself on routers and modems by guessing default
administrative passwords and taking advantage of the fact that many
devices are configured to allow remote access. It also exploits a known
vulnerability in D-Link Systems devices, Vykopal said in an e-mail
A D-Link spokesman said he was not aware of the botnet, and the company
did not immediately have any comment on the issue.
Like an earlier router-infecting botnet called Psyb0t, Chuck Norris can
infect an MIPS-based device running the Linux operating system if its
administration interface has a weak username and password, he said. This
MIPS/Linux combination is widely used in routers and DSL modems, but the
botnet also attacks satellite TV receivers.
Read more here:
I will post updates on this as I discover them on my blog, under this
same post, here: