CISCO issues security patches for nine serious RCEs in SNMP subsystem in IOS and IOS XE

Pierluigi Paganini July 15, 2017

Cisco has fixed nine serious remote code execution flaws in the SNMP subsystem running in all the releases of IOS and IOS XE software.

The tech giant publicly disclosed the vulnerability on June 29 and provided workarounds, not it is notifying customers about the availability of security patches.

The nine issues, that have been tracked with codes from CVE-2017-6736 to CVE-2017-6744, were all patched by the company. All the flaws could be exploited by a remote unauthenticated attacker by sending specially crafted SNMP packets, resulting in arbitrary code execution or causing the system to reload.

“The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) subsystem of Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software contains multiple vulnerabilities that could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to remotely execute code on an affected system or cause an affected system to reload. An attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities by sending a crafted SNMP packet to an affected system via IPv4 or IPv6. Only traffic directed to an affected system can be used to exploit these vulnerabilities.” states the advisory published by CISCO in June.

The experts warned of nine flaws affecting the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) component of IOS and IOS XE software.

The flaws are due to a buffer overflow condition in the SNMP subsystem, all versions of SNMP – Versions 1, 2c, and 3 are affected.

Cisco SNMP

As reported by the advisory, an authenticated attacker who knows the SNMP read-only community string of a target system could remotely execute code or cause the device to reload by sending a specially crafted SNMP packet via IPv4 or IPv6.

The attack is very dangerous because hackers could obtain full control of vulnerable devices and the worst news is that CISCO warned customers that attackers in the wild know about the vulnerabilities and can exploit them in any moment.

“A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code and obtain full control of the affected system or cause the affected system to reload,” Cisco said in its advisory.

Cisco confirmed that any device configured with a list of particular management information base (MIBs) is also vulnerable. MIBs are databases associated with SNMP implementations and are used to manage devices in a communication network.

CISCO when disclosed the issued The company’s original workaround recommendation was to disable the affected MIBs.

Devices configured with any of the following MIBs are vulnerable:

  • TN3270E-RT-MIB

“Some of the MIBs may not be present on all systems or versions but are enabled when present,” continued the Cisco advisory. 

“Administrators may be accustomed to utilizing the show snmp mib command in privileged EXEC mode to display a list of enabled MIBs on a device,” Cisco said. “Not all of the MIBs will be displayed in the output of the show snmp mib command but may still be enabled.” Customers were advised to implement the entire exclude list.

CISCO customers need to apply the patches, the company also recommends network managers to regularly change community strings, which are used to restrict read/write access to SNMP data on a device running IOS or IOS XE.

“These community strings, as with all passwords, should be chosen carefully to ensure they are not trivial,” Cisco said. “They should also be changed at regular intervals and in accordance with network security policies.”

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Cisco IOS Software, hacking)

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