Top 10 Firmware Security Vulnerabilities

Firmware is now a core component of everything - from large servers to small IoT devices. But generally, the security of firmware ignores by developers. This is due to less expertise in the field of firmware security or security researchers more interested in finding web and other technology vulnerabilities.

Currently, many tools are available to analyze firmware security, such as Firmware Modification Kit, Angr binary analysis framework, Binwalk, ByteSweep, Binary Analysis Tool, Firmadyne, Firmwalker, Firmware Analysis Comparison Toolkit, etc.

Here, in this article, we will see the Top 10 Security Firmware Security Vulnerabilities found in IT devices.

(1) Unsupported core components

Updating and patching of IT devices help in mitigating known vulnerabilities. But sometimes, firmware updates may not support core components, which may negatively affect reliability and stability or result in data loss. Test it before any patch installation. Revert it if not supported and inform the manufacturer in forums.

(2) Sensitive URL disclosure

Sometimes sensitive URL is hardcoded in the source code of firmware. These URLs may leak sensitive data if exposed, which may risk the security of IT devices.

(3) Backdoor accounts

This vulnerability is a result of the ignorance of administrators. Backdoor accounts are helpful for admin users to forget their passwords. In that instance, a backdoor account helps reaccess admin accounts and acts as super admin. But if bad people know those backdoor accounts, the security of IT devices has been compromised. Hence, it is recommended that IT devices should not have any backdoor account that acts as a superuser. If required, proper authentication and log trail should be implemented to mitigate the risk of the account.

(4) Out-of-date core components

As time passes, security researchers are more interested in finding vulnerabilities in the IT devices available in the market. Manufacturers releases patches for those vulnerabilities to secure them. If patch installation not happens, it may be exploited by bad people. Hence, it is always recommended to patch IT devices released by manufacturers.

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(5) Hardcoded or easy to guess credentials

This vulnerability is easy to mitigate but hits it very hard if found by hackers. The administrator tends to give default username and password or easily guessable credentials for convenience if found by bad people, results in total compromise of the device. One of the bad practices to store credentials in code is that it compromises the whole set of IT devices. It is recommended not to store passwords or hashes in code.

(6) Sensitive information disclosure

This vulnerability again raises a significant risk to the security of the whole ecosystem. Sensitive information may be social security details, private information, etc.

(7) Admin web interface concerns

All web application related vulnerabilities applicable here. Check for issues by go web vulnerability scanner to identify who set of security issues. Also check for usage of vulnerable services (web, ssh, tftp, etc.) on IT device.

(8) Expired and/or self-signed certificates

Usage of expired and/or self-signed certificates raises a significant risk in the security of IT devices. If an attacker somehow accesses the network, the attacker can spoof the identity of the victim. On the usage of an expired certificate, transactions no longer secure by SSL/TLS. An attacker may intercept the traffic and extract sensitive information from users.

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(9) Same certificate used on multiple devices

Usage of the same certificate used on multiple devices raises a significant risk in IT devices' security. If private is compromised, the whole set of devices are at risk. It is recommended to use the different certificates on devices.

(10) Encryption key exposure

Cryptographic mechanisms are responsible for the confidentiality and integrity of IT devices. But if encryption keys are exposed in any way, the whole security is gone.


Firmware security is one of the critical aspects of the security of IT devices. It is recommended to follow best practices released by manufacturers and different security communities while configuring IT devices.

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Disclaimer: This tutorial is for educational purpose only. Individual is solely responsible for any illegal act.

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