Identifying and Mitigating Exploitation of the Cisco IOS Software Smart Install Remote Code Execution Vulnerability
Advisory ID: cisco-amb-20110928-smart-install
For Public Release 2011 September 28 00:00 UTC (GMT)
Device-Specific Mitigation and Identification
Cisco Security Procedures
The Smart Install feature in Cisco Catalyst Switches that are running Cisco IOS Software contains a vulnerability that could allow a remote attacker to perform remote code execution on the affected device. This vulnerability can be exploited remotely without authentication and without end-user interaction. The attack vector for exploitation is through crafted Smart Install packets using TCP port 4786.
This vulnerability has been assigned CVE identifier CVE-2011-3271.
Information about vulnerable, unaffected, and fixed software is available in the PSIRT Security Advisory, which is available at the following link: http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20110928-smart-install.
Mitigation Technique Overview
Cisco devices provide several countermeasures for this vulnerability. Administrators are advised to consider these protection methods to be general security best practices for infrastructure devices and the traffic that transits the network. This section of the document provides an overview of these techniques.
Cisco IOS Software can provide effective means of exploit prevention using Infrastructure access control lists (iACLs). This protection mechanism filters and drops packets that are attempting to exploit this vulnerability.
Effective exploit prevention can also be provided by the Cisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliance and the Firewall Services Module (FWSM) for Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches and Cisco 7600 Series routers using transit access control lists (tACLs). This protection mechanism filters and drops packets that are attempting to exploit this vulnerability.
Cisco IOS NetFlow records can provide visibility into network-based exploitation attempts.
Cisco IOS Software, Cisco ASA, and Cisco FWSM firewalls can provide visibility through syslog messages and counter values displayed in the output from show commands.
Risk ManagementOrganizations are advised to follow their standard risk evaluation and mitigation processes to determine the potential impact of [this vulnerability|these vulnerabilities]. Triage refers to sorting projects and prioritizing efforts that are most likely to be successful. Cisco has provided documents that can help organizations develop a risk-based triage capability for their information security teams. Risk Triage for Security Vulnerability Announcements and Risk Triage and Prototyping can help organizations develop repeatable security evaluation and response processes.
Caution: The effectiveness of any mitigation technique depends on specific customer situations such as product mix, network topology, traffic behavior, and organizational mission. As with any configuration change, evaluate the impact of this configuration prior to applying the change.
Specific information about mitigation and identification is available for these devices:
Mitigation: Infrastructure Access Control Lists
To protect infrastructure devices and minimize the risk, impact, and effectiveness of direct infrastructure attacks, administrators are advised to deploy infrastructure access control lists (iACLs) to perform policy enforcement of traffic sent to infrastructure equipment. Administrators can construct an iACL by explicitly permitting only authorized traffic sent to infrastructure devices in accordance with existing security policies and configurations. For the maximum protection of infrastructure devices, deployed iACLs should be applied in the ingress direction on all interfaces to which an IP address has been configured. An iACL workaround cannot provide complete protection against these vulnerabilities when the attack originates from a trusted source address.
The iACL policy denies unauthorized Smart Install packets on TCP port 4786 that are sent to affected devices. In the following example, 192.168.60.0/24 is the IP address space that is used by the affected devices, and the host at 192.168.100.1 is considered a trusted source that requires access to the affected devices. Care should be taken to allow required traffic for routing and administrative access prior to denying all unauthorized traffic. Whenever possible, infrastructure address space should be distinct from the address space used for user and services segments. Using this addressing methodology will assist with the construction and deployment of iACLs.
Additional information about iACLs is in Protecting Your Core: Infrastructure Protection Access Control Lists.
ip access-list extended Infrastructure-ACL-Policy ! !-- Include explicit permit statements for trusted sources !-- that require access on the vulnerable port ! permit tcp host 192.168.100.1 192.168.60.0 0.0.0.255 eq 4786 ! !-- The following vulnerability-specific access control entry !-- (ACE) can aid in identification of attacks ! deny tcp any 192.168.60.0 0.0.0.255 eq 4786 ! !-- Explicit deny ACE for traffic sent to addresses configured within !-- the infrastructure address space ! deny ip any 192.168.60.0 0.0.0.255 ! !-- Permit or deny all other Layer 3 and Layer 4 traffic in accordance !-- with existing security policies and configurations ! !-- Apply iACL to interfaces in the ingress direction ! interface GigabitEthernet0/0 ip access-group Infrastructure-ACL-Policy in
Note that filtering with an interface access list will elicit the transmission of ICMP unreachable messages back to the source of the filtered traffic. Generating these messages could have the undesired effect of increasing CPU utilization on the device. In Cisco IOS Software, ICMP unreachable generation is limited to one packet every 500 milliseconds by default. ICMP unreachable message generation can be disabled using the interface configuration command no ip unreachables. ICMP unreachable rate limiting can be changed from the default using the global configuration command ip icmp rate-limit unreachable interval-in-ms.
Identification: Infrastructure Access Control Lists
After the administrator applies the iACL to an interface, the show ip access-lists command will identify the number of Smart Install packets on TCP port 4786 that have been filtered on interfaces on which the iACL is applied. Administrators should investigate filtered packets to determine whether they are attempts to exploit this vulnerability. Example output for show ip access-lists Infrastructure-ACL-Policy follows:
router#show ip access-lists Infrastructure-ACL-Policy Extended IP access list Infrastructure-ACL-Policy 10 permit tcp host 192.168.100.1 192.168.60.0 0.0.0.255 eq 4786 20 deny tcp any 192.168.60.0 0.0.0.255 eq 4786 (13 matches) 30 deny ip any 192.168.60.0 0.0.0.255 router#
In the preceding example, access list Infrastructure-ACL-Policy has dropped 13 Smart Install packets on TCP port 4786 for access control list entry (ACE) line 20.
For additional information about investigating incidents using ACE counters and syslog events, reference the Identifying Incidents Using Firewall and IOS Router Syslog Events Applied Intelligence white paper.
Administrators can use Embedded Event Manager to provide instrumentation when specific conditions are met, such as ACE counter hits. The Applied Intelligence white paper Embedded Event Manager in a Security Context provides additional details about how to use this feature.
Identification: Access List Logging
The log and log-input access control list (ACL) option will cause packets that match specific ACEs to be logged. The log-input option enables logging of the ingress interface in addition to the packet source and destination IP addresses and ports.
Caution: Access control list logging can be very CPU intensive and must be used with extreme caution. Factors that drive the CPU impact of ACL logging are log generation, log transmission, and process switching to forward packets that match log-enabled ACEs.
For Cisco IOS Software, the ip access-list logging interval interval-in-ms command can limit the effects of process switching induced by ACL logging. The logging rate-limit rate-per-second [except loglevel] command limits the impact of log generation and transmission.
The CPU impact from ACL logging can be addressed in hardware on the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches and Cisco 7600 Series routers with Supervisor Engine 720 or Supervisor Engine 32 using optimized ACL logging.
For additional information about the configuration and use of ACL logging, reference the Understanding Access Control List Logging Applied Intelligence white paper.
Identification: Traffic Flow Identification Using NetFlow Records
Administrators can configure Cisco IOS NetFlow on Cisco IOS routers and switches to aid in the identification of traffic flows that may be attempts to exploit this vulnerability. Administrators are advised to investigate flows to determine whether they are attempts to exploit this vulnerability or whether they are legitimate traffic flows.
router#show ip cache flow IP packet size distribution (90784136 total packets): 1-32 64 96 128 160 192 224 256 288 320 352 384 416 448 480 .000 .698 .011 .001 .004 .005 .000 .004 .000 .000 .003 .000 .000 .000 .000 512 544 576 1024 1536 2048 2560 3072 3584 4096 4608 .000 .001 .256 .000 .010 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000 IP Flow Switching Cache, 4456704 bytes 1885 active, 63651 inactive, 59960004 added 129803821 ager polls, 0 flow alloc failures Active flows timeout in 30 minutes Inactive flows timeout in 15 seconds IP Sub Flow Cache, 402056 bytes 0 active, 16384 inactive, 0 added, 0 added to flow 0 alloc failures, 0 force free 1 chunk, 1 chunk added last clearing of statistics never Protocol Total Flows Packets Bytes Packets Active(Sec) Idle(Sec) -------- Flows /Sec /Flow /Pkt /Sec /Flow /Flow TCP-Telnet 11393421 2.8 1 48 3.1 0.0 1.4 TCP-FTP 236 0.0 12 66 0.0 1.8 4.8 TCP-FTPD 21 0.0 13726 1294 0.0 18.4 4.1 TCP-WWW 22282 0.0 21 1020 0.1 4.1 7.3 TCP-X 719 0.0 1 40 0.0 0.0 1.3 TCP-BGP 1 0.0 1 40 0.0 0.0 15.0 TCP-Frag 70399 0.0 1 688 0.0 0.0 22.7 TCP-other 47861004 11.8 1 211 18.9 0.0 1.3 UDP-DNS 582 0.0 4 73 0.0 3.4 15.4 UDP-NTP 287252 0.0 1 76 0.0 0.0 15.5 UDP-other 310347 0.0 2 230 0.1 0.6 15.9 ICMP 11674 0.0 3 61 0.0 19.8 15.5 IPv6INIP 15 0.0 1 1132 0.0 0.0 15.4 GRE 4 0.0 1 48 0.0 0.0 15.3 Total: 59957957 14.8 1 196 22.5 0.0 1.5 SrcIf SrcIPaddress DstIf DstIPaddress Pr SrcP DstP Pkts Gi0/0 192.168.11.54 Gi0/1 192.168.60.158 06 0911 12B2 3 Gi0/1 192.168.150.60 Gi0/0 10.89.16.226 06 0016 12CA 1 Gi0/0 192.168.10.17 Gi0/1 192.168.60.97 06 0B89 12B2 10 Gi0/0 10.88.226.1 Gi0/1 192.168.202.22 11 007B 007B 1 router#
In the preceding example, there are multiple flows for Smart Install packets on TCP port 4786 (hex value 0x12B2).
To view only the traffic flows for packets on TCP port 22 (hex value 0x16), the command show ip cache flow | include SrcIf|_06_.*12B2_ will display the related TCP NetFlow records as shown here:
router#show ip cache flow | include SrcIf|_06_.*0016 SrcIf SrcIPaddress DstIf DstIPaddress Pr SrcP DstP Pkts Gi0/0 192.168.11.54 Gi0/1 192.168.60.158 06 0911 12B2 3 Gi0/0 192.168.10.17 Gi0/1 192.168.60.97 06 0B89 12B2 10 router#
Mitigation: Transit Access Control Lists
To protect the network from traffic that enters the network at ingress access points, which may include Internet connection points, partner and supplier connection points, or VPN connection points, administrators are advised to deploy tACLs to perform policy enforcement. Administrators can construct a tACL by explicitly permitting only authorized traffic to enter the network at ingress access points or permitting authorized traffic to transit the network in accordance with existing security policies and configurations. A tACL workaround cannot provide complete protection against these vulnerabilities when the attack originates from a trusted source address.
The tACL policy denies unauthorized packets on TCP port 4786 that are sent to affected devices. In the following example, 192.168.60.0/24 is the IP address space that is used by the affected devices, and the host at 192.168.100.1 is considered a trusted source that requires access to the affected devices. Care should be taken to allow required traffic for routing and administrative access prior to denying all unauthorized traffic.
Additional information about tACLs is in Transit Access Control Lists: Filtering at Your Edge.
! !-- Include explicit permit statements for trusted sources !-- that require access on the vulnerable port !! access-list tACL-Policy extended permit tcp host 192.168.100.1 192.168.60.0 255.255.255.0 eq 4786 ! !-- The following vulnerability-specific access control entry !-- (ACE) can aid in identification of attack ! access-list tACL-Policy extended deny tcp any 192.168.60.0 255.255.255.0 eq 4786 ! !-- Permit or deny all other Layer 3 and Layer 4 traffic in accordance !-- with existing security policies and configurations ! !-- Explicit deny for all other IP traffic ! access-list tACL-Policy extended deny ip any any ! !-- Apply tACL to interface(s) in the ingress direction ! access-group tACL-Policy in interface outside
Identification: Transit Access Control Lists
After the tACL has been applied to an interface, administrators can use the show access-list command to identify the number of Smart Install packets on TCP port 4786 that have been filtered. Administrators are advised to investigate filtered packets to determine whether they are attempts to exploit this vulnerability. Example output for show access-list tACL-Policy follows:
firewall#show access-list tACL-Policy access-list tACL-Policy; 3 elements access-list tACL-Policy line 1 extended permit tcp host 192.168.100.1 192.168.60.0 255.255.255.0 eq 4786 access-list tACL-Policy line 2 extended deny tcp any 192.168.60.0 255.255.255.0 eq 4786 (hitcnt=80) access-list tACL-Policy line 3 extended deny ip any any (hitcnt=8) firewall#
In the preceding example, access list tACL-Policy has dropped 80 Smart Install packets on TCP port 4786 for ACE line 2.
Identification: Firewall Access List Syslog Messages
Firewall syslog message 106023 will be generated for packets denied by an access control entry (ACE) that does not have the log keyword present. Additional information about this syslog message is in Cisco ASA 5500 Series System Log Message, 8.2 - 106023.
Information about configuring syslog for the Cisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliance is in Monitoring - Configuring Logging. Information about configuring syslog on the FWSM for Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches and Cisco 7600 Series routers is in Monitoring the Firewall Services Module.
In the following example, the show logging | grep regex command extracts syslog messages from the logging buffer on the firewall. These messages provide additional information about denied packets that could indicate potential attempts to exploit the vulnerabilities that are described in this document. It is possible to use different regular expressions with the grep keyword to search for specific data in the logged messages.
Additional information about regular expression syntax is in Creating a Regular Expression.
firewall#show logging | grep 106023 Feb 21 2010 00:15:13: %ASA-4-106023: Deny tcp src outside:192.0.2.99/2946 dst inside:192.168.60.240/4786 by access-group "tACL-Policy" Feb 21 2010 00:15:13: %ASA-4-106023: Deny tcp src outside:192.0.2.88/2949 dst inside:192.168.60.38/4786 by access-group "tACL-Policy" firewall#
In the preceding example, the messages logged for the tACL tACL-Policy show packets for TCP port 4786 sent to the address block assigned to affected devices.
Additional information about syslog messages for ASA security appliances is in Cisco ASA 5500 Series System Log Messages, 8.2. Additional information about syslog messages for the FWSM is in Catalyst 6500 Series Switch and Cisco 7600 Series Router Firewall Services Module Logging System Log Messages.
For additional information about investigating incidents using syslog events, reference the Identifying Incidents Using Firewall and IOS Router Syslog Events Applied Intelligence white paper.
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