Aussie security firm plugs Cisco’s wireless holes

Cisco has released patches for vulnerabilities in eight products

Cisco Systems has released patches for eight of its products after the Melbourne-based internet security company Assurance discovered vulnerabilities in some of Cisco’s wireless products.

The vulnerabilities were discovered after studying the Cisco Wireless LAN Solution Engine. The security team found vulnerabilities within the Cisco Hosting Solution Engine (HSE); the Ethernet Subscriber Solution Engine (ESSE); the CiscoWorks2000 Service Management Solution (SMS); the Cisco VLAN Policy Server (VPS) and the ME1100 Series of the Cisco Management Engine.

Cisco announced fixes for the vulnerabilities on April 20. Assurance has been assisting Cisco since January 31 to resolve the issue. Assurance director Adam Pointon discovered the vulnerability while on a customer site and says such a breach would ultimately allow unauthorised software to be installed by a “rogue administrator”, which will be virtually undetectable.

“The vulnerability is extremely easy to exploit and it’s possible for a rogue administrator to access the underlying operating system by typing one specially crafted command into Cisco’s restricted, text-based management interface,” Pointon says.

“These embedded appliances are actually Linux-based systems.”

Neal Wise, a director at Assurance, says if the devices in question are not correctly maintained they could become a serious liability to the enterprise. However, he says Cisco was very responsive in releasing patches, despite the perceived three-month turnaround.

“Cisco had to go through the whole Q&A process which was a lot to ask, because the vulnerability affected a number of different products,” Wise says.

“The main thing was to have patches available on the Cisco site prior to us jointly announcing the vulnerability.”

A Cisco spokesperson says the company is not aware of any active exploitation of these vulnerabilities.

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