CISA adds Palo Alto Networks PAN-OS Command Injection flaw to its Known Exploited Vulnerabilities catalog

Pierluigi Paganini April 15, 2024

U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) adds Palo Alto Networks PAN-OS Command Injection flaw to its Known Exploited Vulnerabilities catalog.

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) added the CVE-2024-3400 Palo Alto Networks PAN-OS Command Injection vulnerability to its Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog.

CVE-2024-3400 (CVSS score of 10.0) is a critical command injection vulnerability in Palo Alto Networks PAN-OS software. An unauthenticated attacker can exploit the flaw to execute arbitrary code with root privileges on affected firewalls. This flaw impacts PAN-OS 10.2, PAN-OS 11.0, and PAN-OS 11.1 firewalls configured with GlobalProtect gateway or GlobalProtect portal (or both) and device telemetry enabled.

Palo Alto Networks and Unit 42 are investigating the activity related to CVE-2024-3400 PAN-OS flaw and discovered that threat actors have been exploiting it since March 26, 2024.

The researchers are tracking this cluster of activity, conducted by an unknown threat actor, under the name Operation MidnightEclipse.

“Palo Alto Networks is aware of malicious exploitation of this issue. We are tracking the initial exploitation of this vulnerability under the name Operation MidnightEclipse, as we assess with high confidence that known exploitation we’ve analyzed thus far is limited to a single threat actor.” reads the report. “We also assess that additional threat actors may attempt exploitation in the future.”

Upon exploiting the flaw, the threat actor was observed creating a cronjob that would run every minute to access commands hosted on an external server that would execute via bash.

The researchers were unable to access the commands executed by the attackers, however, they believe threat actors attempted to deploy a second Python-based backdoor on the vulnerable devices.

Researchers at cybersecurity firm Volexity referred this second Python backdor as UPSTYLE.

The threat actor, tracked by Volexity as UTA0218, remotely exploited the firewall device to establish a reverse shell and install additional tools. Their primary objective was to extract configuration data from the devices and then use it as a foothold to expand laterally within the targeted organizations.

“During its investigation, Volexity observed that UTA0218 attempted to install a custom Python backdoor, which Volexity calls UPSTYLE, on the firewall. The UPSTYLE backdoor allows the attacker to execute additional commands on the device via specially crafted network requests. Details on this backdoor are included further on in this report.” reads the report published by Volexity. “As Volexity broadened its investigation, it discovered successful exploitation at multiple other customers and organizations dating back to March 26, 2024. Those attempts appear to be the threat actor testing the vulnerability by placing zero-byte files on firewall devices to validate exploitability.”

According to Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 22-01: Reducing the Significant Risk of Known Exploited Vulnerabilities, FCEB agencies have to address the identified vulnerabilities by the due date to protect their networks against attacks exploiting the flaws in the catalog.

Experts recommend also private organizations review the Catalog and address the vulnerabilities in their infrastructure.

CISA orders federal agencies to fix this vulnerability by April 19, 2024.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Hacking, CISA)

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