EnGenius routers found in Mirai-like botnet

EnGenius routers were recently found in a Mirai-like botnet with a distinct network traffic fingerprint. Locating this botnet subset was a joint effort between myself and Dr. Neal Krawetz.

EnGenius logo

This Mirai-like botnet traffic was fingerprinted after a distinct pattern in the packets received was identified by Dr. Krawetz. While the source port was usually randomized, the TCP sequence number was always the same. However, it wasn’t just any static number, it was the destination IP address of the bot’s target.

This behavior was previously noted in a LinkedIn post about IDS rules used to block Mirai scans. This is expected, per the snippet of source code of Miari shown below.

Snippet of Mirai source code

I found 85,100 unique IP addresses used by devices in Mirai-like botnet since 2/18/2017. AS4134 (China Telecom) had most unique IPs with 10,972 seen.

IP addresses seen in Mirai-like botnet by ASN since 2017-02-18

This destination IP address was found to be encoded in of each incoming packet’s sequence number. The example log snippet below illustrates how this is extracted.


In this case the TCP sequence number, written as hex, is 0x48c1af41. When we convert this value from hex to an IP address, we get – which is the destination (target) IP address.

Your logs may vary and instead record the sequence number in decimal format. In the example above, the decimal version of the SEQ = 1220652865 which converts to just the same.

The fingerprint is best illustrated when the target IP address changes as shown below:

TCP Sequence Number = Destination IP

Once the fingerprint of botnet was established, I was able to review the IP addresses found in my logs for further patterns. After reviewing a handful of devices coming from IP addresses in the United States , I noticed a trend in the type of devices. Each was an Engenius ESR300 or ESR600 router.

EnGenius ESR300 router

Both router models are listed on the Engenius website as a “Discontinued Product” and the latest firmware was released on 5/23/2016.

EnGenius Firmware Screenshot

Combining the botnet data from Dr. Krawetz, I independently confirmed 81 of 130 EnGenius routers known to be participating in the botnet.

All incoming traffic from the EnGenius routers was on TCP port 23/2323 (telnet). The highest-volume attackers are shown below and the raw data is available here.

EnGenius Botnet - Top Attackers

The majority of the attacks occurred between 8/25/2017 and 8/29/2017. The type of attack was a SYN flood. This first network traffic from an EnGenius router was observed on 6/15/2017. The raw data of all traffic I observed is available here.

Attacks from EnGenius routers came from all over the world. Most however came from networks in the United States. Both AS11796 (Airstream Communications) and AS13370 (LocalTel Communications) had the most with 12 unique IP address in the EnGenius router botnet.

EnGenius Routers found by ASN with more than one unique IP address
EnGenius Routers found by ASN with more than one unique IP address

The majority of EnGenius routers found had the same ports open to the internet:

UDP 5060 (SIP)
TCP 8081 (HTTP)
TCP 9000 (HTTP)
TCP 10000 (HTTP)

So how easy is it for the average user to access the administrator interface of these routers? Not surprisingly, very easy. The router’s default credentials are quickly found in the user manual.

EnGenius default credentials

But if what you want to take a more “challenging” approach to locate the default creds? Look no further than the JavaScript file loaded when you visit the router’s login page:

Locating the EnGenius default credentials

This file describes all the functions of the router in addition to providing the default credentials:

“Please enter user name and password.”
“The default account is admin/admin.”

If you looking for an even more challenging method to gain access to an EnGenius router, a remote code execution exploit PoC was published by Zero Science Lab earlier this year in which they stated:

EnGenius EnShare suffers from an unauthenticated command injection vulnerability. An attacker can inject and execute arbitrary code as the root user via the ‘path’ GET/POST parameter parsed by ‘usbinteract.cgi’ script.

I was able to confirm this method was viable for some, but not all of the EnGenius routers found in the botnet. Since it’s very easy to gain root access to EnGenius routers, it presents a clear avenue for any malicious party to add them to their botnet.

I contacted EnGenius with my findings and their customer service team replied that my case “has been escalated to the engineering team.” I haven’t received further communication from EnGenius and will update this post if I hear back.

In the meantime, Dr. Krawetz advises:

For network administrators who want to detect infected hosts from this new botnet: Look for SYN packets where tcp.seq==ip.dst.

If you see a match, then the ip.src denotes an infected address. Either the device at that address is infected, or something behind that NAT router is infected.

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