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CERT Coordination Center

Alcatel ADSL modems provide unauthenticated TFTP access via physical WAN interface

Vulnerability Note VU#490344

Original Release Date: 2001-04-10 | Last Revised: 2001-04-11


The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) has recently discovered several vulnerabilities in the Alcatel Speed Touch line of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) modems. These vulnerabilities are the result of weak authentication and access control policies and result in one or more of the following impacts: unauthorized access, unauthorized monitoring, information leakage, denial of service, and permanent disability of affected devices.

The SDSC has published additional information regarding these vulnerabilities at


To allow your ISP to upgrade the firmware of the ADSL modem remotely, unauthenticated TFTP access is provided to users with physical access to the wire on the WAN side of the modem. While this access is normally used legitimately by your ISP, it could also be abused by an attacker with physical access to the wire outside of your home or at a local access point.


An attacker with physical access to your wire may be able to gain unauthenticated TFTP access, allowing them to perform the following operations:

    - inspection of configuration data
    - recovery and setting of passwords
    - inspection and updates to the firmware
    - destructive updates to the firmware
    - malicious custom updates to the firmware

Note that affected Alcatel ADSL modems do not provide any mechanism for determining the validity of firmware updates, so a remote attacker may be able to install custom firmware that operated as a DDoS client or a network sniffer. Similarly, an attacker could produce an invalid firmware revision that would disable the device completely, leaving victims no alternative but to return the disabled unit to the manufacturer.


The CERT/CC is currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem.

Vendor Information


Alcatel Affected

Notified:  April 10, 2001 Updated: April 10, 2001



Vendor Statement

Alcatel has published a statement regarding these issues at:

Vendor Information

The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.


The CERT/CC believes that the following devices are affected by this vulnerability

- Alcatel Speed Touch Home ADSL Modem
- Alcatel 1000 ADSL Network Termination Device

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

CVSS Metrics

Group Score Vector



The CERT Coordination Center would like to thank Tom Perrine and Tsutomu Shimomura of the San Diego Supercomputer Center for notifying us about this problem and their help in constructing this advisory.

This document is based on research by the SDSC and was written by Cory Cohen and Jeffrey P. Lanza.

Other Information

CVE IDs: None
CERT Advisory: CA-2001-08
Severity Metric: 2.94
Date Public: 2001-04-10
Date First Published: 2001-04-10
Date Last Updated: 2001-04-11 15:32 UTC
Document Revision: 13

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