Embedded TCP/IP stacks have memory corruption vulnerabilities

Multiple open-source embedded TCP/IP stacks, commonly used in Internet of Things (IoT) and embedded devices, have several vulnerabilities stemming from improper memory management.

Embedded TCP/IP stacks provide essential network communication capability using TCP/IP networking to many lightweight operating systems adopted by IoT and other embedded devices. These software stacks can also be used in the latest technologies such as Edge Computing. The following embedded TCP/IP stacks were discovered to have 33 memory related vulnerabilities included in this advisory:

These networking software stacks can be integrated in various ways, including compiled from source, modified and integrated, and linked as a dynamic or static libraries, allowing for a wide variety of implementations. As an example, projects such as Apache Nuttx and open-iscsi have adopted common libraries and software modules, thus inheriting some of these vulnerabilities with varying levels of impact. The diversity of implementations and the lack of supply chain visibility has made it difficult to accurately assess the impact, usage as well as the potential exploitability of these vulnerabilities.

In general, most of these vulnerabilities are caused by memory management bugs, commonly seen in lightweight software implementations in Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS) and IoT devices. For specific details on these vulnerabilities, see the Forescout advisory that provides technical details.

The impact of these vulnerabilities vary widely due to the combination of build and runtime options customized while including these in embedded devices. In summary, a remote, unauthenticated attacker may be able to use specially-crafted network packets to cause the vulnerable device to behave in unexpected ways such as a failure (denial of service), disclosure of private information, or execution of arbitrary code.

Apply updates

Update to the latest stable version of the affected embedded TCP/IP software that address these recently disclosed vulnerabilities. If you have adopted this software from an upstream provider, contact the provider to get appropriate updates that need to be integrated into your software. Concerned end-users of IoT and embedded devices that implement these vulnerable TCP/IP software stacks should contact their vendor or the closest reseller to obtain appropriate updates.

Duncan Newell

Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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