Cisco has released patches for eight of its products after Australian security company Assurance.com.au discovered vulnerabilities in some of the vendor's wireless products.
The security team found vulnerabilities within the Cisco Hosting Solution Engine (HSE), the Ethernet Subscriber Solution Engine (ESSE), 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 20 April. Assurance.com.au has been assisting Cisco since January to resolve the issue. Assurance.com.au director Adam Pointon discovered the vulnerability while on a customer site and said a breach will 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 said.
"These embedded appliances are actually Linux-based systems. By exploiting the vulnerability, it's possible for a rogue administrator to install unauthorised software on these devices that would be virtually undetectable to future administrators, and that's a problem."
Neal Wise, a director of Assurance.com.au, said if the devices in question are not correctly maintained they could become a serious liability to the enterprise; however, he said 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, but Cisco was very responsive," Wise said.
"The main thing was to have patches available on the Cisco site prior to us jointly announcing the vulnerability."
A spokesperson for Cisco Australia said Cisco was not aware of any active exploitation of these vulnerabilities; however it is aware of the vulnerabilities impacting the Cisco Wireless LAN Solution Engine, or WLSE products. The spokesperson said customers should refer to the appropriate Cisco security advisory for additional details, including instructions on obtaining software fixes.