An "oversight" by Alcatel has created a security flaw in some of its enterprise network switches.
Alcatel and US alert service CERT have revealed that OmniSwitch 7700 and 7800s running AOS (Alcatel operating system) version 5.1.1 can potentially be taken over by an unauthorised user, due to a telnet server connection not being removed after testing.
The vulnerability is at TCP port 6778, where the telnet server will accept connections without requesting a password.
Alcatel says the situation arose because the telnet server, installed during product testing, was inadvertently left in the AOS 5.1.1 code after the switches were released commercially.
In a statement on its website, Alcatel says "during an Nmap audit, it was determined that a telnet server was listening on TCP port 6778.
"Due to an oversight, this access was not removed prior to product release.
"Anyone running Nmap on AOS 5.1.1 will see port 6778 listening and the attacker is able to telnet to the port and access the OmniSwitch operating system without a password.
"This backdoor compromises the entire system."
Nmap is an open source network auditing product and telnet is a TCP/IP protocol used for accessing remote computers.
Alcatel recommends creating an access control list to block all access to TCP port 6778, then obtaining a patch, available from the company.
AOS versions 5.1.3 and beyond have the vulnerability removed and Alcatel New Zealand spokesperson Robyn Bern says all OmniSwitch 7700 and 7800 switches currently being delivered run version 5.1.3.
No New Zealand customers have had to download a patch for 5.1.1, because the switches aren't yet in use here, Bern says.
"We're in the process of putting together a channel strategy to sell and support them."
She says the telnet server vulnerability alert is the first ever issued for Alcatel's LAN switching products.
Alcatel spokesman Klaus Wustrack told IDG's news service late last month that the OmniSwitch 7700 and 7800 are "normally used within a private enterprise network. They are not public switching products.
"Any enterprise should protect their private network through a firewall."
Computerworld asked Telecom, which has a partnership with Alcatel for the latter to supply infrastructure for its planned all-IP network, if the security flaw was of concern, but no reply was received by deadline.