Three months ago I tested the web interface of the Netgear WNR1000v4 router for some typical vulnerabilities. When playing around with the application by forcefully calling different URLs in contexts it was not meant for, I got some strange, but interesting behaviour.

I accessed different URLs and then switched back to the root web directory to have a look at some web application feature. At this moment I realized that I did not have to submit any credentials to access the administration interface. It seemed that the whole HTTP authentication process was not active anymore and I remembered that I definitely did not log in because I wanted to test the password reset feature. This was really strange, so I logged out and had a look at my Burp request history to determine which resource triggered this behaviour.

After some tests I realized that the resource /BRS_netgear_success.html is the problem. If you are not authenticated and call the URL several times the HTTP Basic Authentication temporary gets deactivated and you can access the administration interface without username and password [1].

This works because the “password deactivation feature” is used when you first plugin the router to configure some settings the first time.

I tested this vulnerability on the WNR1000v4 Netgear router with the following firmware versions:

Because this firmware is used for multiple devices, other devices are probably affected as well. This page references a list of devices which are very likely to be impacted [2]:

  • JNR1010v2
  • JWNR2000v5
  • JWNR2010v5
  • WNR614
  • WNR618
  • WNR1000v4
  • WNR2020
  • WNR2020v2

After the discovery I contacted Netgear through different channels to find a way for responsible disclosure. Unfortunately Netgear was not very responsive and it took a longer time until they responded. After about 2 months they sent me an undisclosed security fix which solves the problem. Netgear twice refused to respond to our request for a patched firmware release date. In the meantime, the issue was rediscovered and publically disclosed by another researcher [4]. This public disclosure prompted us to release our advisory to the public on October 6th.

In this case not the end of the story, but just the trigger of further events detailed in follow-up post “Aftermath of the Netgear Advisory Disclosure”.