Dissertation: Router Reverse Engineering

Routers are a very important part in the networking community since they provide numerous ways to connect multiple devices together to form a network in which different devices can interact together. In this study, router reverse engineering was carried out to understand the threats that router reverse engineering pose on the local area network (LAN). The dissertation outlines the whole process that the reverse engineer goes through in order to reverse engineer the firmware including the operating system and also the file system disassembly. Hardware disassembly was also carried out and documented to understand the device design, architecture and to perform chip analysis. All the different security mechanisms implemented and encountered inside the Belkin F5D8636 (the specific device used for the purpose of this dissertation) and the process of how each security mechanism was identified and overcome are all documented in this dissertation. As a result, the risk of a compromised router inside a LAN was analyzed. At the end of this study, it was concluded that all the major security mechanisms implemented, do not offer enough security to defend against modification. A meterpreter payload was used to demonstrate the severity such attack can have on the whole network. With some in-depth analysis, an attacker can quickly modify files inside the firmware, thus improvements of the aforementioned security mechanisms are still required.