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How can the Misfortune Cookie router vulnerability be avoided?

While the Misfortune Cookie router flaw can only be fixed by hardware vendors, there are several things enterprises can do to minimize the impact of such a vulnerability. Expert Kevin Beaver explains.

While the Misfortune Cookie vulnerability in routers can only be mitigated by the hardware vendors, what steps can my organization take to remain secure? How can we ensure other routers won't fall victim to similar attacks?

The Misfortune Cookie flaw affects the RomPager Web server that runs on millions of consumer-centric routers and gateways. Apparently, more than 200 models of these systems are affected. The exploitation involves merely sending a single cookie to the device that, in turn, effectively opens the system up for remote control. This can allow for further exploitation of devices behind the router/gateway.

I don't believe you'll be able to keep other routers from falling victim to such attacks, especially when those routers are out of your control. What you can do, however, is minimize the impact to your business in the event that such a router vulnerability is exploited by:

  • Using (or requiring) VPN connections for all inbound network traffic;
  • Utilizing technology such as NAC to enforce malware, personal firewall, full disk encryption and other endpoint security controls;
  • Requiring users to have corporate-issued systems (i.e., laptops, tablets, phones) rather than connecting with personal systems that are likely unsecured and infected with malware;
  • Using data loss prevention to monitor for sensitive information abuse; and
  • Training your users on what to do and what not to do as well as providing instructions on how to test for this security flaw and how to fix it.

Once users are on your network, you have additional options -- such as segmenting them to unique network segment, analyzing their computer behavior and network traffic, and the like. You might go as far as limiting what remote users can do on the network.

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This was last published in June 2015

Dig Deeper on Network device security: Appliances, firewalls and switches