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Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Brief Survey of CWMP Security


This article attempts to provide a brief overview of the CPE WAN Management Protocol (CWMP). We also share some of our findings during a Penetration Test (with very limited scope) of a CWMP based Home Broadband infrastructure.

Finally we provide some of the possible attack vectors against a CWMP infrastructure and prospective areas of research in this topic.


The CPE WAN Management Protocol (CWMP) is a bi-directional SOAP/HTTP based protocol which allows centralised remote management of Customer Premises Equipments such as Broadband Routers, VoIP Phones , Set-Top Boxes etc. by an Auto Configuration Server (ACS).

CWMP infrastructure allows an ACS to provision a CPE during its deployment at the customer end while monitoring and upgrading its software and configuration as and when applicable.

The Broadband Forum's Technical Report 069 (TR069) defines the specification and implementation requirements for CWMP.

Deployment & Technical Details

Fig. 1.0: CWMP Specification - TR069.pdf

The above diagram briefly describes the design and deployment of a CWMP based infrastructure involving a set of CPE devices and an ACS. The ACS can request for a session with the CPE which in turn establishes a CWMP session with the pre-configured ACS. The session allows an ACS to perform various administrative tasks on the CPE including software and configuration update. If UPNP is supported by the CPE, it optionally can allow NAT Traversal functionality by an ACS so that it can communicate with devices inside the Local Network and request for connection initiation.

Protocol of Communication

CWMP uses SOAP/HTTP based communication between the ACS and the CPE. The schema definition for CWMP SOAP Methods are available here using which an appropriate WSDL can be generated for use with conventional SOAP Clients or Libraries. Pre-generated WSDL for CWMP-1.0 and CWMP-1.1 can be found here.

The major RPC Methods used in CWMP are as follows:
  • Inform method is used by a CPE to initiate a CWMP Session with its pre-configured ACS.
  • GetParameterValues method is used by the ACS to obtain various configuration information from the CPE using corresponding Parameter Names.
    • Parameters are grouped based on relevance and are separated using '.'
    • E.g. InternetGatewayDevice.ManagementServer.URL is the parameter name for ACS URL configuration in the CPE.
  • SetParameterValues method is used by the ACS to update various configuration information in the CPE using corresponding Parameter Names.
  • Download method is used by the ACS to initiate a file download by the CPE. This request is usually used to upgrade software/firmware in the CPE.
  • Upload method is used by the ACS to request the CPE to upload a local file from the CPE to a specific URL. Current version of CWMP allows uploading of Vendor Configuration and Log Files only.
  • Reboot method is used by the ACS to initiate a CPE reboot.

The CWMP specification also supports a method called GetRPCMethods which can be used to enumerate the supported CWMP RPC Methods in a CWMP capable device (CPE or ACS).

CWMP GetRPCMethods Example using SoapUI

The above screenshot shows a GetRPCMethods call against an ACS. This method is probably ideal for use as a CWMP endpoint discovery mechanism due to the fact that many ACS or CPE will allow a request for this method even without authentication.

During our testing, we could call this method against multiple ACS implementations without authentication. However none of the CPEs (our scope was limited to only 2 models of Home Broadband ADSL Router) responded to this request even with authentication.

Session Initiation & Execution

  • A CWMP Session is initiated by a CPE with its pre-configured ACS URL by sending an Inform Request to the ACS. Device specific information like Vendor, Make, Model etc. are shared as a part of Inform request parameter with the ACS. An Inform request is executed by a CPE on occurrence of various events or periodically every pre-configured duration.
  • The ACS in turn responds with an Inform Response message which contains negotiated session parameters. This HTTP response may contain more than one SOAP envelops each containing a CWMP RPC Method call request from the ACS. 
  • The CPE then responds with response to RPC Method Call requests from the ACS or RPC Method Call request of its own.
  • The session is terminated when there are no further messages to be exchanged by both the ends or in case of an error.

Alternatively, an ACS may also request for a session by sending a GET request to a specific URL in the CPE called the Connection Request Notification (CRE). The specification suggests usage of non-static resource-location by the CPE along with HTTP Digest based authentication for CRE. This GET request act as a trigger event which should cause the CPE to initiate a CWMP session with the ACS in the usual manner described above.

Note: The CWMP specification suggests usage of a single HTTP connection (using the Keep-Alive flag) for the entire CWMP session. However cookies may be used to maintain the HTTP session for implementations that does not support Keep-Alive.

Security Note: CWMP is relatively secure by design due to the fact that CPE devices which may be exposed over the Internet DOES NOT accept CWMP RPC requests over any HTTP connection originating from any location other than the one initiated by the CPE itself. The CPE initiates an HTTP Connection with the pre-configured ACS URL and initiates a CWMP Session. The SOAP/HTTP paradigm is reversed in its implementation such that HTTP Responses from the ACS contains CWMP RPC Requests and HTTP Requests from the CPE contains corresponding CWMP RPC responses.

CWMP Attack Surface

During our research, we were not able to discover any critical issue with the design of CWMP however during a pentest we were able to exploit configuration weaknesses in the CWMP implementation of the target particularly hardcoded credentials and absence of SSL in HTTP connections. Particularly we were able to demonstrate using CWMP for backdooring CPE devices and using our malicious ACS as a Command & Control server for multiple CPE devices which was possible only due to configuration vulnerabilities in the target deployment and is not a flaw with CWMP itself.

Man in the Middle (MiTM) Attacks

As described earlier, CWMP enables an ACS to perform various administrative and management operation on a set of CPE devices including firmware upgrade and updating important configuration parameters like Gateway IP, DNS Server etc. The specification strongly encourages usage of HTTPS instead of plain HTTP. The specification also optionally requires the CPE to verify the SSL certificate fingerprint of the ACS before connection establishment. Adhering to these recommendations ensure integrity of the session.

CWMP infrastructure that does not make use of SSL sessions are susceptible to Man-in-the-Middle attacks which endagers CPE devices. In case an attacker manages to become a Man-in-the-Middle between an ACS and a CPE, it is possible to change the ACS URL configuration and hijack the corresponding CPE using his own malicious ACS.

Reflective DDoS against an Auto Configuration Server (ACS)

CWMP provides option for an ACS to request for a session with a CPE. The Connection Request Notification (described earlier) is a GET request sen't to a CPE designated URL with credentials for HTTP Digest Authentication with the CPE. This GET request acts as trigger for the CPE to initiate a new CWMP session with its pre-configured ACS after verification of provided credentials. The specification requires the CPE to randomly generate the path of the URL for Connection Request Notification. However during our testing, we found the entire set of CPE devices within the scope of testing have the following configuration:

CWMP "Connection Request Notification" Configuration in Test ADSL Router

Evidently the CWMP implementation in our tested CPE devices are not very obedient to the specification. Due to the predictable nature of the Connection Request Notification (CRE) configuration for CPE devices, it is trivial to write a script to scan an entire network for open CWMP endpoints and send a CRE HTTP request which will initiate a connection from the CPE to the ACS. If the network is sufficiently large, it can be exploited to cause a DDoS against the ACS.

Even though the specification suggests that the CPE should handle this case and must not initiate more than a given number of connection within a time window, implementations may vary and such was the case during our testing.

Miscellaneous Issues

The ACS is a conventional web application usually implemented using Java based technologies and deployed on top of JBoss or Tomcat. Hence during a Penetration Test of a CWMP deployment the ACS must be subjected to a conventional Web Application & Web Service Penetration Testing. 

We were blessed with a nice verbose SQL Injection vulnerability in one of the target ACS during our test which made life a bit easier.

Although CWMP provides a robust model for remote management of CPE in a local broadband deployment, the security threats associated with the design of CWMP and its common deployments are yet to be evaluated. The readers are requested to share possible Attack Vectors that may be possible against a CWMP infrastructure.




  1. Hi, I'm writing a client to manage a OpenRG's Soap CWMP implementation. I enjoyed your article, but I'm not able to download the WSDL file that you linked. Could you fix the link? It gives a 404.

  2. The WSDL seem to be available here: