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DHS Raps Juniper Over the Knuckles for 40 Junos OS Vulnerabilities

The Department of Homeland Security felt it necessary to take Juniper Networks to the woodshed for 40 vulnerabilities, many critical, that affected the company's Junos OS.

Larry Loeb

October 12, 2018

3 Min Read

The Department of Homeland Security took Juniper Networks out to the woodshed this week, and gave the company a couple of major whacks across the knuckles.

If one follows the links in the polite email the DHS sent out about Juniper software, they would find about 40 newly revealed security vulnerabilities that affect Junos OS listed. That's the OS that runs all the network hardware that Juniper sells.

Juniper hardware is usually enterprise-grade, as are their customers. But having this large amount of problems all hit at once may cause some questioning about the validity of the network services that Juniper offers as well.

One critical vulnerability -- Level 9.8 -- was found in the Network Time Protocol (NTP) area. It's flagged as CVE-2016-1549, CVE-2018-7170, CVE-2018-7182, CVE-2018-7184, CVE-2018-7185, and CVE-2018-7183 at cve.mitre.org for all the different Junos OS versions that were affected.

(Source: iStock)

(Source: iStock)

What this means is that the NTP daemon (NTPD) in NTP 4.2.8p4 before 4.2.8p11 will drop bad packets before updating the "received" timestamp, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service disruption by sending a packet with a zero-origin timestamp. That causes the association to reset and setting the contents of the packet as the most recent timestamp.

Now, standard best practices such as control plane firewall filters, edge filtering and access lists will protect against remote malicious attacks against NTP. But not every connection has hardware protection around it.

Other kinds of higher-level vulnerabilities were in the list as well.

A persistent cross-site scripting vulnerability (CVE-2018-0047) in the UI framework used by Junos Space Security Director -- a security administrator control program -- may allow already authenticated users to inject persistent and malicious scripts. It has a CVSS rating of 8, and a high-risk level. If exploited, it can allow stealing of information or performing actions as a different user when other users access the Security Director web interface.

Oh yeah, there is also remote root access for a device in the mix. Surprise. CVE-2018-0052 outlines how it can happen.

If the remote shell (RSH) service is enabled on Junos OS and if the privileged account management (PAM) authentication is disabled, a remote unauthenticated attacker can obtain root access to the device.

RSH service is disabled by default on Junos. There is no documented command-line interface (CLI) command to enable this service. However, an undocumented CLI command -- since removed along with the entire CLI package -- allows a privileged Junos user to enable RSH service and disable PAM, and hence expose the system to unauthenticated root access.

While all of the mess is supposed to be fixed by patching, doing this much patching at once is a real problem for enterprises. These are critical vulnerabilities that need to be eliminated, but there is a lot of online production that is happening with the affected servers. It's not a simple thing to do so wide and deep a patch on production environments.

But Juniper did get rapped for making it necessary.

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— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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About the Author(s)

Larry Loeb

Blogger, Informationweek

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet protocol. His latest book has the commercially obligatory title of Hack Proofing XML. He's been online since uucp "bang" addressing (where the world existed relative to !decvax), serving as editor of the Macintosh Exchange on BIX and the VARBusiness Exchange. His first Mac had 128 KB of memory, which was a big step up from his first 1130, which had 4 KB, as did his first 1401. You can e-mail him at [email protected].

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