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Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/18/2010
05:17 PM
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Cisco Videoconferencing Products Contain Vulnerable Credentials

Researchers were able to use these hard-coded and unchangeable passwords, other vulnerabilities, to access internal network

Cisco's Unified Videoconferencing product contains hard-coded passwords and other vulnerabilities in the software that could be used to infiltrate an organization's internal network.

A Cisco advisory issued yesterday said the Unified Videoconferencing 5110 and 5115 Systems' Linux shell contains three hard-coded usernames and passwords that can't be altered, nor can the accounts themselves be deleted. "Attackers could leverage these accounts to obtain remote access to a device by using permitted remote access protocols," Cisco said in the advisory.

Florent Daigniere of Matta Consulting first reported the flaws, which also include misconfigurations and weak handling of other credentials in the product. Matta discovered the vulnerabilities when conducting an external penetration test for one of its clients, and was able to use those flaws to access the client's internal network.

"If successful, a malicious third party can get full control of the device and harvest user passwords with little to no effort. The Attacker might reposition and launch an attack against other parts of the target infrastructure from there," wrote Matta in an advisory on the Cisco vulnerabilities. Matta recommends unplugging the videconferencing system from its network socket until Cisco issues a patch.

Cisco said other videoconferencing products affected by some of the vulnerabilities discovered by Matta include the Cisco UVC VxWorks operating system-based Unified Videoconferencing 5230, 3545, 3527 Primary Rate Interface Gateway, 3522 Basic Rate Interfaces Gateway, and 3515 Multipoint Control Unit.

Among the flaws are a shell-command injection vulnerability in the Web interface of the videoconferencing products, weak obfuscation of credentials, an FTP server accessible by default, and weak session IDs.

The practice of hard-coding passwords is nothing new -- it's mainly for the convenience of the developers for debugging purposes, but can leave a product wide open to attack. "The practice, while thankfully less common today, occurs frequently as app developers are more focused on the development/release cycle of the app, versus the security of that application," says Adam Bosnian, executive vice president of the Americas and corporate development for Cyber-Ark. "As we've all learned and been preaching for years now, the concept of software development and security can no longer be separate endeavors: Security has to be part and parcel of the architecture and development process."

Hard-coding passwords to mask embedded credentials means you can't change or remove them. "Basically, they've developed an application with a bull's-eye target on it for malicious outsiders to focus on. While the industry has focused mostly on the elegance of a virus like Stuxnet, the bottom line is that these hard-coded passwords are the key vulnerability that they leverage -- they're the new attack point because of the powerful access and control they grant the user on the target device, and potentially throughout an organization," Bosnian says.

Meanwhile, Cisco plans to issue a patch for the flaws, but says users can do a few things to mitigate the risk of attack for now, including limiting access to the Cisco UVC Web server to trusted hosts: disable FTP, SSH, and telnet, and set the "Security mode" field in the "Security" section of the Cisco UVC web GUI to "Maximum." More information is available here from Cisco.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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