200 OK ECGSA-18A: Evidence of Botnet-assisted SIP Attacks exploiting SIP-UA Configuration Files for traffic pumping fraud

Original Release Date: September 19, 2018. Updated 18:19 UTC

Systems Affected

SIP Service Providers and Enterprises

Background & Description

SIP based Enterprises and Service Providers (SIP Operators) that provide SIP UA configuration files (such as for Cisco, Polycom, Yealink, Mitel devices), but which do not authenticate those downloads effectively, are vulnerable to attack by having those configuration files downloaded. The configurations contain SIP servers and authentication credentials; when disclosed, attacks can be launched against those SIP networks. In the past, firewall rules were sufficient authentication by confirming that downloads originated from known networks.

In attacks September 19, 2018 (UTC), evidence emerged that attackers are successfully retrieving the SIP UA configuration files including authentication credentials, REGISTER, and launch outbound calls via SIP to high-cost destinations, even in networks where IP access lists and firewall rules are in place to limit access. The attack methods appear consistent with use of botnet agents installed within the networks of the attacked entities. These attacks are succeeding in production, Interconnected Voice networks that do have firewall rules and access lists in place.

Key traffic-pumping destinations in this attack are in country code +224 (Democratic Republic of Congo) and to +1-876 (Jamaica).

The observed use of legitimate user IP address space from which to launch SIP attacks represents a substantial escalation in the strategy used by attackers.


Even with strong SIP authentication and firewall rules, SIP Operators may be exploited for fraudulent economic benefit of the attackers. Toll fraud to high-cost destinations based on traffic pumping can create substantial costs for SIP Operators, and for potentially theft of confidentiality.


ECG recommends the following immediate measures to prevent this type of attack:

  1. Use TLS with Client Certificate Authentication to restrict SIP-UA configuration to ensure that only legitimate devices with manufacturer-signed client TLS certificates ("manufacturer installed certificates", or MICs) are able to download configuration files. For SIP UA Configuration platforms that do not have intrinsic TLS Client Certificate Authentication and Authorization support, implement an intermediate HTTPS proxy to verify client certificates.
  2. After limiting SIP UA Configuration Downloads to be restricted by TLS and Client Certificate Authentication, therefore ensuring attackers cannot retrieve the SIP authentication credentials, update the SIP authentication credentials to use SIP passwords of 12 characters or longer.
  3. Block outbound calling to high-cost destinations whenever possible.
  4. Manage firewall rules to minimize access to SIP-UA Configuration Servers.
  5. Monitor for outbound calling to high-cost destinations and block attacks, using toll-fraud monitoring tools.


The SIP UA models can operate without TLS Client Certificate Authentication on Config, but have been reported by the manufacturers to have the capability.

  • Aastra 6700, 6800, 9000
  • Alcatel-Lucent 80x8
  • Audiocodes 400HD
  • Cisco 8800
  • Panasonic KX-HDV
  • Polycom VVX
  • Snom IP Phones
  • VTech VSP, VCS,
  • Yealink IP Phones T2xx, T4x, T5xx




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