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Killing the Myth of Cisco IOS Diversity: Recent Advances in Reliable Shellcode Design

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Executive Summary

IOS firmware diversity, the unintended consequence of a complex firmware compilation process, has historically made reliable exploitation of Cisco routers difficult. With approximately 300,000 unique IOS images in existence, a new class of version-agnostic shellcode is needed in order to make the large-scale exploitation of Cisco IOS possible. The authors show that such attacks are now feasible by demonstrating two different reliable shellcodes which will operate correctly over many Cisco hardware platforms and all known IOS versions.

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