NSA details top 25 flaws exploited by China-linked hackers

Pierluigi Paganini October 20, 2020

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has shared the list of top 25 vulnerabilities exploited by Chinese state-sponsored hacking groups in attacks in the wild.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has published a report that includes details of the top 25 vulnerabilities that are currently being exploited by China-linked APT groups in attacks in the wild.

The knowledge of these vulnerabilities could allow IT and security staffs at organizations worldwide to protect their infrastructure against Chinese state-sponsored hacking campaigns.

The report includes well known vulnerabilites that have been already addressed by their vendors.

“This advisory provides Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) known to be recently leveraged, or scanned-for, by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors to enable successful hacking operations against a multitude of victim networks. Most of the vulnerabilities listed below can be exploited to gain initial access to victim networks using products that are directly accessible from the Internet and act as gateways to internal networks.” reads the report. “The majority of the products are either for remote access (T1133)1 or for external web services (T1190), and should be prioritized for immediate patching.”

The report includes a description of the vulnerability and the recommended mitigations.

The exploits for many of these vulnerabilities are publicly available and are employed by multiple threat actors, including China-linked hackers, in attacks in the wild.

The majority of the vulnerabilities can be exploited to gain initial access to the target networks, they affect systems that are directly accessible from the Internet, such as firewalls and gateways.

NSA confirmed that it is aware that National Security Systems, Defense Industrial Base, and Department of Defense networks are consistently scanned, targeted, and exploited by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors. The US agency recommends that critical system owners will address the above vulnerabilities to mitigate the risk of loss of sensitive information that could have a significant impact on U.S. policies, strategies, plans, and competitive advantage.


These include:

1) CVE-2019-11510 – In Pulse Secure VPNs, ® 7 an unauthenticated remote attacker can send a specially crafted URI to perform an arbitrary file reading vulnerability. This may lead to exposure of keys or passwords.

2) CVE-2020-5902– In F5 BIG-IP® 8 proxy / load balancer devices, the Traffic Management User Interface (TMUI) – also referred to as the Configuration utility – has a Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability in undisclosed pages.

3) CVE-2019-19781 – An issue was discovered in Citrix® 9 Application Delivery Controller (ADC) and Gateway. They allow directory traversal, which can lead to remote code execution without credentials.

4+5+6) CVE-2020-8193CVE-2020-8195CVE-2020-8196– Improper access control and input validation, in Citrix® ADC and Citrix® Gateway and Citrix® SDWAN WAN-OP, allows unauthenticated access to certain URL endpoints and information disclosure to low-privileged users

7) CVE-2019-0708 (aka BlueKeep) – A remote code execution vulnerability exists within Remote Desktop Services®10 when an unauthenticated attacker connects to the target system using RDP and sends specially crafted requests

8) CVE-2020-15505 – A remote code execution vulnerability in the MobileIron®13 mobile device management (MDM) software that allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code and take over remote company servers.

9) CVE-2020-1350 (aka SIGRed– A remote code execution vulnerability exists in Windows Domain Name System servers when they fail to properly handle requests.

10) CVE-2020-1472 (aka Netlogon) – An elevation of privilege vulnerability exists when an attacker establishes a vulnerable Netlogon secure channel connection to a domain controller using the Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC).

11) CVE-2019-1040 – A tampering vulnerability exists in Microsoft Windows when a man-in-the-middle attacker is able to successfully bypass the NTLM MIC (Message Integrity Check) protection.

12) CVE-2018-6789 – Sending a handcrafted message to an Exim mail transfer agent may cause a buffer overflow. This can be used to execute code remotely and take over email servers.

13) CVE-2020-0688 – A Microsoft Exchange® validation key remote code execution vulnerability exists when the software fails to properly handle objects in memory

14) CVE-2018-4939 – Certain Adobe ColdFusion versions have an exploitable Deserialization of Untrusted Data vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution.

15) CVE-2015-4852 – The WLS Security component in Oracle WebLogic 15 Server allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via a crafted serialized Java object

16) CVE-2020-2555 – A vulnerability exists in the Oracle Coherence product of Oracle Fusion Middleware. This easily exploitable vulnerability allows unauthenticated attacker with network access via T3 to compromise Oracle Coherence systems.

17) CVE-2019-3396– The Widget Connector macro in Atlassian Confluence 17 Server allows remote attackers to achieve path traversal and remote code execution on a Confluence Server or Data Center instance via server-side template injection.

18) CVE-2019-11580 – Attackers who can send requests to an Atlassian Crowd or Crowd Data Center instance can exploit this vulnerability to install arbitrary plugins, which permits remote code execution.

19) CVE-2020-10189 – Zoho ManageEngine Desktop Central allows remote code execution because of deserialization of untrusted data.

20) CVE-2019-18935 – Progress Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX contains a .NET deserialization vulnerability. Exploitation can result in remote code execution.

21) CVE-2020-0601 (aka CurveBall) – A spoofing vulnerability exists in the way Windows CryptoAPI (Crypt32.dll) validates Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates. An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by using a spoofed code-signing certificate to sign a malicious executable, making it appear that the file was from a trusted, legitimate source.

22) CVE-2019-0803– An elevation of privilege vulnerability exists in Windows when the Win32k component fails to properly handle objects in memory.

23) CVE-2017-6327– The Symantec Messaging Gateway can encounter a remote code execution issue.

24) CVE-2020-3118 – A vulnerability in the Cisco Discovery Protocol implementation for Cisco IOS XR Software could allow an unauthenticated, adjacent attacker to execute arbitrary code or cause a reload an affected device.

25) CVE-2020-8515 – DrayTek Vigor devices allow remote code execution as root (without authentication) via shell metacharacters.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, NSA)

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