VMware Confirms Hacker Leaked Source Code For ESX Hypervisor

Officials at VMware have confirmed source code released by a hacker is legitimate, but said customers may not necessarily be at increased risk

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

April 25, 2012

2 Min Read

A hacker has taken credit for posting source code online for VMware's ESX hypervisor product, but the company said yesterday that customers may not face additional risk.

VMware officials say the posting is of a single file from the VMware ESX source code, and both the code and associated developer commentary date back to the 2003 to 2004 time frame.

"The fact that the source code may have been publicly shared does not necessarily mean that there is any increased risk to VMware customers," Iain Mulholland, director of VMware Security Response Center, blogged. "VMware proactively shares its source code and interfaces with other industry participants to enable the broad virtualization ecosystem today. We take customer security seriously and have engaged internal and external resources, including our VMware Security Response Center, to thoroughly investigate. We will continue to provide updates to the VMware community if and when additional information is available."

VMware did not offer further details on the incident today when contacted for additional comment, but a spokesperson says the company will continue to investigate. The source-code file is part of a trove of documents leaked by a hacker known as "Hardcore Charlie" that also include what appears to be an internal VMware memo pasted onto letterhead for Beijing-based China National Import & Export Corp. (CEIEC).

According to a published report on Threatpost, Hardcore Charlie claims to have hacked CEIEC as well as a number of other firms in the Asia-Pacific region, including China North Industries Corp. He also claimed to have stolen more than a terabyte of data from those companies’ servers with the help of other hackers.

"While details are sketchy, this attack once again shows that even the best prepared firms can have risks from consequential third-party access to data out of their control," says Mark Bower, data protection expert and vice president at Voltage Security. "The real pain for the industry in this case is less about counterfeit VMware instances, but the intimate knowledge attackers may now possess of possible vulnerabilities in a critical virtualization tool that is the foundation for many enterprise data centers, clouds, and applications."

Eric Chiu, founder and president of virtualization security firm HyTrust, notes that the prevalence of virtualization technologies make it little wonder that hackers would be interested in VMware source code.

"Virtualization is mainstream and over 50 percent of enterprise datacenters are now virtualized," he says. "Because of this success, virtual infrastructure is a prime target for attack -- so the theft of VMware ESX source code, similar to RSA's breach last year, is no surprise."

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