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AVM FRITZ!Box: Arbitrary Code Execution Through Manipulated Firmware Images

The firmware upgrade process of the FRITZ!Box 7490 is flawed. Specially
crafted firmware images can overwrite critical files. Arbitrary code can
get executed if an attempt is made to install such a manipulated


Product: AVM FRITZ!Box 7490, possibly others
Affected Versions: versions prior to 6.30 [0]
Fixed Versions: >= 6.30 [0]
Vulnerability Type: Authenticated Code Execution
Security Risk: medium
Vendor URL:
Vendor Status: fixed version released
Advisory URL:
Advisory Status: published
CVE: CVE-2014-8886


FRITZ!Box is the brand name of SOHO routers/CPE manufactured by AVM
GmbH. The FRITZ!Box usually combines features such as an xDSL modem, a
wifi access point, routing, VoIP, NAS and DECT.

More Details

AVM regularly publishes firmware updates to address bugs and to
introduce new features. The firmware image can either be uploaded
manually or the FRITZ!Box downloads it semi-automatically from via unencrypted HTTP if a new version is

Technically, AVM firmware images are tar files:

$ tar --list --file FRITZ.Box_7490.113.06.20.image

When transferred to the FRITZ!Box, updates are extracted to the root
directory before their cryptographic signature is verified. Thus,
critical files can be overwritten by specially crafted firmware images.
Attackers can use this weakness to execute arbitrary code.

For example, the root directory of the web interface is located at
/var/html (ramdisk), which is a symlink that points to /usr/www/avm
(read-only squashfs). If the victim uploads a tar file that contains a
symlink called ./var/html, the web server's root directory is relocated
to whatever the malicious symlink points to, e.g. ./var/redteam. There,
attackers can place arbitrary content, such as CGIs. Once invoked by a
browser, arbitrary code can be executed.

As the signature check will inevitably fail, the victim will be asked
whether the unsigned firmware image should be processed or not. That
confirmation page is formatted by CSS. As a result, the victim's browser
will try to reload the main.css, which is now under the control of the
attacker. The attacker can manipulate the main.css to trick the victim's
browser into loading an attacker-controlled CGI. In total, the upload of
a manipulated firmware image can immediately lead to code execution
without the need of further action by the victim.

Proof of Concept

The following command generates a firmware image that leads to code
execution when uploaded to a FRITZ!Box 7490. As soon as the FRITZ!Box
reports the signature mismatch, a password-less telnetd listening on
port 9999 will be started.

$ base64 -d <<EOF | gunzip > poc.image


Check each firmware image manually for suspicious file names, before
uploading to the FRITZ!Box. A more precise workaround does not exist at
the moment.


Customers should upgrade to a fixed firmware version as soon as
possible. Before upgrading, they should check the new firmware image for
suspicious file names (see "Workaround").

Security Risk

This vulnerability allows an attacker to inject arbitrary code into AVM
firmware images. If the attacker is able to perform a man-in-the-middle
attack between the AVM FRITZ!Box and, firmware
images can be manipulated in transit. Otherwise, attackers need to trick
their victims into installing a malicious firmware image. While
successful attacks result in the full compromise of a device, they would
typically require an attacker in a very strong position. The
vulnerability is therefore considered to pose a medium risk.


2014-10-14 Vulnerability identified
2014-10-16 Vendor notified
2014-11-11 CVE requested
2014-11-11 Vendor announced patch
2014-11-14 CVE number assigned
2014-11-17 Vendor provided fixed version to RedTeam Pentesting
2015-07-16 Vendor started releasing fixed versions (7490 [0])
2015-10-01 Vendor finished releasing fixed versions (other models)
2016-01-07 Advisory released



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