Qemu vs sstrip

Qemu usually does a great job emulating embedded Linux applications, but as with anything you will occasionally run into bugs. While attempting to debug an embedded application in Qemu the other day, I ran into the following error:

eve@eve:~/firmware$ sudo chroot . ./qemu-mips bin/ls 
bin/ls: Invalid ELF image for this architecture

This error is usually indicative of using the wrong endian emulator, but I knew that the target binary was big endian MIPS. The file utility began to shed some light on the issue:

eve@eve:~/firmware$ file bin/busybox 
bin/busybox: ELF 32-bit MSB executable, MIPS, MIPS-I version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), corrupted section header size

Hmmm, a corrupted section header? Let’s take a closer look at the binary.

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Exploiting Embedded Systems – Part 4

So far in this series we’ve found that we can log in to our target TEW-654TR router by either retrieving the plain text administrator credentials via TFTP, or through SQL injection in the login page. But the administrative web interface is just too limited – we want a root shell!

We’ll be doing a lot of disassembly and debugging, so having IDA Pro Advanced is recommended. But for those of you who don’t have access to IDA, I’ve included lots of screenshots and an HTML disassembly listing courtesy of IDAnchor.

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Exploiting Embedded Systems – Part 3

In part 2 of this series we found a SQL injection vulnerability using static analysis. However, it is often advantageous to debug a target application, a capability that we’ll need when working with more complex exploits later on.

In this segment we won’t be discovering any new vulnerabilities, but instead we will focus on configuring and using our debugging environment. For this we will be using Qemu and the IDA Pro debugger. If you don’t have IDA you can use insight/ddd/gdb instead, but in my experience IDA is far superior when it comes to embedded debugging.

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Exploiting Embedded Systems – Part 2

In part 1 we used the TEW-654TR’s TFTP service to retrieve the administrative credentials to our target system.

But what if we didn’t have access to the TFTP service? Many embedded devices don’t have a TFTP service, or there may be a firewall between us and the target that blocks traffic to UDP port 69. In this case, we’ll have to take a closer look at the web application running on the target.

Burpsuite Login

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Exploiting Embedded Systems – Part 1

So far our tutorials have focused on extracting file systems, kernels and code from firmware images. Once we have a firmware image dissected into something we can work with, the next step is to analyze it for vulnerabilities.

Our target is going to be the Trendnet TEW-654TR. We’ll be examining many different security holes in this device, but for part 1 we will focus on gaining initial access given only a login page and nothing more. We will assume that we do not have physical access to the target device, nor to any other device for testing or analysis.

If you don’t already have them, you will need to install binwalk and the firmware mod kit.


Let’s get started!

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Modifying The DD-WRT GUI

Although released under the GPL, DD-WRT is notoriously difficult to build from source. If you want to customize your DD-WRT installation, it is usually easier to extract files from the firmware image, change what you need, and then re-construct the image.

One exception here is the Web GUI. The DD-WRT Web pages (*.asp, *.htm, *.gif, *.css) in each firmware image are protected in order to prevent modification. Being able to customize the Web interface can be advantageous for those wishing to add compatibility with mobile/uncommon browsers, change themes, add links, etc.

And, despite claims to the contrary, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing.

DD-WRT Sporting the Hack-A-Day Logo

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Reverse Engineering VxWorks Firmware: WRT54Gv8

Lately I’ve been working on taking apart some VxWorks firmware images. Unfortunately, I could find precious little information available on the subject, so today we’ll be extracting the VxWorks kernel and application code from the WRT54Gv8 firmware image and analyzing them in IDA Pro.

The WRT54G series infamously switched from Linux to VxWorks with the release of the WRT54Gv5. Because VxWorks is a proprietary RTOS, it is a less familiar environment than a Linux based system. Even once you identify the different sections of the firmware image, there usually isn’t a standard file system full of standard ELF executables that can be automatically analyzed by a disassembler.

The overall process for reversing this firmware is pretty straight forward:

  1. Identify and extract actual executable code from the firmware image
  2. Identify the loading address for the executable code
  3. Load the executable code into IDA Pro at the appropriate loading address
  4. Augment IDA’s auto analysis with manual/scripted analysis

Debugging with JTAG or observing debug messages over a serial port can probably be substituted for steps #1 and #2, but since I don’t have any VxWorks WRT54G routers, this will be a purely firmware based analysis.

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Mystery File System

Last week Jim posted a comment asking about reverse engineering the firmware for some Chinese routers with the intention of extracting the Web files and translating them to English.

Although I usually work with Linux based firmware, this sounded interesting so I thought I’d investigate. Although I wasn’t able to completely recover the Web files, the process of reversing a file system format seemed like a good subject for discussion.

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