On December 18th, 2015 Juniper issued an advisory indicating that they had discovered unauthorized code in the ScreenOS software that powers their Netscreen firewalls. This advisory covered two distinct issues; a backdoor in the VPN implementation that allows a passive eavesdropper to decrypt traffic and a second backdoor that allows an attacker to bypass authentication in the SSH and Telnet daemons. Shortly after Juniper posted the advisory, an employee of FoxIT stated that they were able to identify the backdoor password in six hours. A quick Shodan search identified approximately 26,000 internet-facing Netscreen devices with SSH open. Given the severity of this issue, we decided to investigate.
The argument to the strcmp call is <<< %s(un=’%s’) = %u, which is the backdoor password, and was presumably chosen so that it would be mistaken for one of the many other debug format strings in the code. This password allows an attacker to bypass authentication through SSH and Telnet, as long as they know a valid username.