FBI: An APT abused a zero-day in FatPipe VPNs for six months
Image: Jordan Harrison, The Record
Catalin Cimpanu November 17, 2021

FBI: An APT abused a zero-day in FatPipe VPNs for six months

FBI: An APT abused a zero-day in FatPipe VPNs for six months

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation said it discovered an advanced persistent threat (APT) abusing a zero-day vulnerability in FatPipe networking devices as a way to breach companies and gain access to their internal networks.

“As of November 2021, FBI forensic analysis indicated exploitation of a 0-day vulnerability in the FatPipe MPVPN device software going back to at least May 2021,” the agency said in a flash security alert sent out on Tuesday.

The FBI said the vulnerability allowed the hacking group to exploit a file upload function in the device’s firmware and install a webshell with root access.

The FBI said it spotted the hackers abusing the zero-day only against FatPipe MPVPN devices, but the vulnerability also impacted other products, such as IPVPN and WARP.

All are different types of virtual private network (VPN) servers that companies install at the perimeter of their corporate networks and use to allow employees remote access to internal applications via the internet, acting as mash-up between network gateways and firewalls.

Patch released yesterday, November 16

The FBI said the zero-day it discovered during its investigation does not currently have its own CVE identifier.

FatPipe has released a patch and additional information via an internal security advisory tracked as FPSA006. The company said the zero-day could be exploited to overwrite an affected device’s configuration file, which allows attackers to take full control of unpatched systems.

Currently, there are around 800 FatPipe MPVPN devices connected to the internet, according to a Shodan search.

To help IT and security teams check if their FatPipe systems have been hacked and detect the intruder’s webshells, the FBI has also published several indicators of compromise (IOCs) and YARA signatures as part of its alert [PDF].

FatPipe now joins a long list of networking equipment makers that have had their systems abused for cyber intrusions. The list includes the likes of Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, F5 Networks, Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet, and Citrix, just to name the bigger ones.

Attacks targeting networking devices such as firewalls, VPN servers, network gateways, and load balancers had ramped up during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when threat actors realized that these devices are installed almost all large corporate and government networks — as a way to let remote workers connect to internal applications.

Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.