BCMPUPnP_Hunter: A 100k Botnet Turns Home Routers to Email Spammers

Haythem Elmir
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Since September 2018, 360Netlab Scanmon has detected multiple scan spikes on TCP port 5431, each time the system logged more than 100k scan sources, a pretty large number compared with most other botnets we have covered before.

The interaction between the botnet and the potential target takes multiple steps, it starts with tcp port 5431 destination scan, then moving on to check target’s UDP port 1900 and wait for the target to send the proper vulnerable URL. After getting the proper URL, it takes another 4 packet exchanges for the attacker to figure out where the shellcode’s execution start address in memory is so a right exploit payload can be crafted and fed to the target.

At the beginning we were not able to capture a valid sample as the honeypot needs to be able to simulate the above scenarios. We had to tweak and customize our honeypot quite a few times, then finally in Oct, we got it right and successfully tricked the botnet to send us the sample (we call it BCMUPnP_Hunter).

The botnet has the following characteristics:

  • The amount of infection is very large, the number of active scanning IP in each scan event is about 100,000;
  • The target of infection is mainly router equipment with BroadCom UPnP feature enabled.
  • Self-built proxy network (tcp-proxy), the proxy network is implemented by the attacker, the proxy currently communicates with well-known mail servers such as Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, etc. We highly suspect that the attacker’s intention is to send spams.

Scale Assessment

The trend of scanning source IP for TCP port 5431 in the last 30 days is as follows:

  • It can be seen that the scan activity picks up every 1-3 days. The number of active scanning IP in each single event is about 100,000
  • All together we have 3.37 million unique scan source IPs. It is a big number, but it is likely that the IPs of the same infected devices just changed over time.
  • The number of potential infections may reach 400,000 according to Shodan based on the search of banner: Server: Custom/1.0 UPnP/1.0 Proc/Ver

Geographical distribution for the scanner IPs in the last 7 days.

Infected Device Information

We probed the scanners, and 116 different type of infected device information is obtained, the actual infected device type should be more than what displays below:

ADB Broadband S.p.A,    HomeStation ADSL Router  
ADB Broadband,    ADB ADSL Router  
ADBB,    ADB ADSL Router  
ALSiTEC,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
ASB,    ADSL Router  
ASB,    ChinaNet EPON Router  
ASB,    ChinaTelecom E8C(EPON) Gateway  
Actiontec,    Actiontec GT784WN  
Actiontec,    Verizon ADSL Router  
BEC Technologies Inc.,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Best IT World India Pvt. Ltd.,    150M Wireless-N ADSL2+ Router  
Best IT World India Pvt. Ltd.,    iB-WRA300N  
Billion Electric Co., Ltd.,    ADSL2+ Firewall Router  
Billion Electric Co., Ltd.,    BiPAC 7800NXL  
Billion,    BiPAC 7700N  
Billion,    BiPAC 7700N R2  
Binatone Telecommunication,    Broadcom LAN Router  
Broadcom,    ADSL Router  
Broadcom,    ADSL2+ 11n WiFi CPE  
Broadcom,    Broadcom  Router  
Broadcom,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Broadcom,    D-Link DSL-2640B  
Broadcom,    D-link ADSL Router  
Broadcom,    DLink ADSL Router  
ClearAccess,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Comtrend,    AR-5383n  
Comtrend,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Comtrend,    Comtrend single-chip ADSL router  
D-Link Corporation.,    D-Link DSL-2640B  
D-Link Corporation.,    D-Link DSL-2641B  
D-Link Corporation.,    D-Link DSL-2740B  
D-Link Corporation.,    D-Link DSL-2750B  
D-Link Corporation.,    D-LinkDSL-2640B  
D-Link Corporation.,    D-LinkDSL-2641B  
D-Link Corporation.,    D-LinkDSL-2741B  
D-Link Corporation.,    DSL-2640B  
D-Link,    ADSL 4*FE 11n Router  
D-Link,    D-Link ADSL Router  
D-Link,    D-Link DSL-2640U  
D-Link,    D-Link DSL-2730B  
D-Link,    D-Link DSL-2730U  
D-Link,    D-Link DSL-2750B  
D-Link,    D-Link DSL-2750U  
D-Link,    D-Link DSL-6751  
D-Link,    D-Link DSL2750U  
D-Link,    D-Link Router  
D-Link,    D-link ADSL Router  
D-Link,    DVA-G3672B-LTT Networks ADSL Router  
DARE,    Dare router  
DLink,    D-Link DSL-2730B  
DLink,    D-Link VDSL Router  
DLink,    DLink ADSL Router  
DQ Technology, Inc.,    ADSL2+ 11n WiFi CPE  
DQ Technology, Inc.,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
DSL,    ADSL Router  
DareGlobal,    D-Link ADSL Router  
Digicom S.p.A.,    ADSL Wireless Modem/Router  
Digicom S.p.A.,    RAW300C-T03  
Dlink,    D-Link DSL-225  
Eltex,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
FiberHome,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
GWD,    ChinaTelecom E8C(EPON) Gateway  
Genew,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
INTEX,    W150D  
INTEX,    W300D  
INTEX,    Wireless N 150 ADSL2+ Modem Router  
INTEX,    Wireless N 300 ADSL2+ Modem Router  
ITI Ltd.,    ITI Ltd.ADSL2Plus Modem/Router  
Inteno,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Intercross,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
IskraTEL,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Kasda,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Link-One,    Modem Roteador Wireless N ADSL2+ 150 Mbps  
Linksys,    Cisco X1000  
Linksys,    Cisco X3500  
NB,    DSL-2740B  
NetComm Wireless Limited,    NetComm ADSL2+ Wireless Router  
NetComm,    NetComm ADSL2+ Wireless Router  
NetComm,    NetComm WiFi Data and VoIP Gateway  
OPTICOM,    DSLink 279  
Opticom,    DSLink 485  
Orcon,    Genius  
Raisecom,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Ramptel,    300Mbps ADSL Wireless-N Router  
Router,    ADSL2+ Router  
SCTY,    TYKH PON Router  
Star-Net,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Starbridge Networks,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
TP-LINK Technologies Co., Ltd,    300Mbps Wireless N ADSL2+ Modem Router  
TP-LINK Technologies Co., Ltd,    300Mbps Wireless N USB ADSL2+ Modem Router  
TP-LINK,    TP-LINK Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router  
TP-LINK,    TP-LINK Wireless ADSL2+ Router  
Technicolor,    CenturyLink TR-064 v4.0  
Tenda,    Tenda ADSL2+ WIFI MODEM  
Tenda,    Tenda ADSL2+ WIFI Router  
Tenda,    Tenda Gateway  
UTStarcom Inc.,    UTStarcom ADSL2+ Modem Router  
UTStarcom Inc.,    UTStarcom ADSL2+ Modem/Wireless Router  
UniqueNet Solutions,    WLAN N300 ADSL2+ Modem Router  
ZTE,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
ZTE,    ONU Router  
ZYXEL,    ZyXEL VDSL Router  
Zhone,    Broadcom ADSL Router  
Zhone,    Zhone Wireless Gateway  
Zoom,    Zoom Adsl Modem/Router  
ZyXEL,    CenturyLink UPnP v1.0  
ZyXEL,    P-660HN-51  
ZyXEL,    ZyXEL xDSL Router  
huaqin,    HGU210 v3 Router  
iBall Baton,    iBall Baton 150M Wireless-N ADSL2+ Router  
iiNet Limited,    BudiiLite  
iiNet,    BoB2  
iiNet,    BoBLite  

Botnet Workflow

As mentioned in the beginning, the bot has to go through multiple steps to infect a protentional target, see the following diagram for the workflow, note the Loader is (

Figure 1: BCMUPnP_Hunter Infection process (Click to enlarge)

The Sample

The sample of the botnet consists of two parts, the shellcode and the Main sample, which are described below.


The main function of shellcode is to download the main sample from C2( and execute it.

The shellcode has a full length of 432 bytes, very neatly organized and written, some proofs below (We did not find similar code using search engines). It seems that the author has profound skills and is not a typical script kid:

  • Code basic: The code has multiple syscall calls for networks, processes, files, etc.
  • Some details: syscall 0x40404(instead of syscall 0) and multiple inversion operations were used so bad characters (\x00) could be avoided; the stack variables in the code also have different degrees of multiplexing to optimize the runtime stack structure;
  • Code logic: by calling the Loop at various section, the possibility of many failed calls is reasonably avoided, and the validity of shellcode execution is guaranteed.

The complete flow chart is as follows:

Figure 2: Shellcode calling graph(Click to enlarge)

Main Sample

The main sample includes BroadCom UPnP vulnerability probe and a proxy access network module, it can parse four instruction codes from C2:

Command Code  |   Length   |  Function  
0x00000000         0x18       The first packet, no practical function  
0x01010101         0x4c       Search for potential vulnerable target  
0x02020202         0x08       Empty current task  
0x03030303         0x108      Access Proxy Network  
  • 0x01010101 to enable the port scan task, once the BOT IDs a potential target, the target IP will be reported to the Loader, and then the Loader will complete the subsequent infection process.
  • 0x03030303 is for the proxy service, BOT accesses the address provided in the instruction and reports the access result to the C2. This can generate real economic benefits. Attackers can use this command to build a proxy network, and then profit from doing things such as sending spam, simulating clicks, and so on.

Proxy Network and Spam

In the instructions we have obtained, BCMUPnP_Hunter is used to proxy traffic to the following servers:  

This table shows what we have dug out from our various data sources for the above IPs:

As can be seen:

  • These servers are all well-known mail service providers, including Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail;
  • For several months, these servers have provided and only provided TCP25 services;
  • In this case, it appears that the attacker is abusing the email service of these servers;

This makes us highly skeptical that the attacker is using the proxy network established by BCMUPnP_Hunter to send spam.

To read the original article:


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