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 international news.
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 support purposes).
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: