Acquisitions and Supply Chains: The Achilles’ heel of Product/Organizational Security

(A reminder to folks expecting “R”/”data science” content: the feed for that is at if you don’t want to see the occasional non-R/datasci posts.)

Over at the $WORK blog we posted some research into the fairly horrible Cisco RV320/RV325 router vulnerability. The work blog is the work blog and this blog is my blog (i.e. opinions are my own, yada, yada, yada) and I felt compelled to post a cautionary take to vendors and organizations in general on how security issues can creep into your environment as a result of acquisitions and supply chains.

Looking purely at the evidence gathered from internet scans — which include SSL certificate info — and following the trail in the historical web archive one can make an informed, speculative claim that the weakness described in CVE-2019-1653 existed well before the final company logo ended up on the product.

It appears that NetKlass was at least producing the boards for this class of SMB VPN router and ultimately ended up supplying them to Linksys. A certain giant organization bought that company (and subsequently sold it off again) and it’s very likely this vulnerability ended up in said behemoth’s lap due to both poor supply chain management — in that Linksys seems to have done no security testing on the sourced parts — and, due to the acquisition, which caused those security issues to end up in a major brand’s product inventory.

This can happen to any organization involved in sourcing hardware/software from a third party and/or involved in acquiring another company. Receiving compliance-driven checkbox forms on the efficacy of the target security programs (or sw/hw) is not sufficient but is all too common a practice. Real due diligence involves kinda-trusting then verifying that the claims are accurate.

Rigorous product testing on the part of the original sourcing organization and follow-up assurance testing at the point of acquisition would have very likely caught this issue before it became a responsibly disclosed vulnerability.

Cover image from Data-Driven Security
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