This type of patching inconsistency happens frequently in the router world, Bono said. Vendors often fix vulnerabilities only in the models for which those flaws were reported by researchers and fail to test if their other products are also vulnerable. In some cases vendors never fix the reported vulnerabilities at all, and sometimes they're not even able to because the flaws are actually in code supplied to them by chipset vendors, he said.
Bono doesn't think the routers that weren't hacked during the contest don't have any vulnerabilities. He believes the results are related to which models the four contestants had access to in advance so they could analyze them, rather than one router being more secure than another.
In general SOHO routers are not designed with security in mind because manufacturers operate on small profit margins and rush to get products to market as fast as possible rather than invest in secure development lifecycles and security audits, Bono said.
Since most routers are vulnerable regardless of who made them, there is little incentive for secure development. However, with large-scale attacks against routers becoming increasingly common and more people understanding the risks associated with router compromises, security can become a differentiator in this market, Bono said.
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