Feeds

Password guessing games with Check Point firewall

Two security flaws

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Security researchers have discovered two potentially serious flaws with Check Point's flagship FireWall-1 firewall which give rise to both username guessing and sniffing issues.

First, affected versions permit attackers to determine if a firewall username is valid without having to know the associated password. This enabling crackers to guess valid usernames using a dictionary attack.

The guessing rate is limited mostly by the firewall CPU rather than by the Internet link speed, according to security testing specialists NTA Monitor, which discovered the problem. In effect, this means that companies using a hi-spec firewall server increase the speed at which an attacker can guess passwords, NTA
warns.

In addition, NTA Monitor discovered that VPN usernames are passed in the clear without encryption, allowing anyone who is able to sniff network traffic between VPN clients and the firewall to observe usernames in transit. The flaws exploit the Internet Key Exchange (IKE) encryption scheme and affect all Check Point FireWall-1 systems of 4.0 or above.

Roy Hills, Technical Director, NTA Monitor, said that the flaws leave a back door to enterprises "wide open to hackers".

"The biggest problem is that it is not necessary to send a password to obtain a reply from the Firewall. Given that both users and system administrators often chose weak passwords, it is likely that any attacker will be able to guess at least one password and thus gain access to the VPN - and from there most configurations easily allow full access to the company's resources."

Hills expressed surprise at discovering the flaw. He notes that it is standard security practice in many other authentication mechanisms, including Unix logon, to wait until both username and password are supplied before, if either is incorrect, sending a generic error message.

If certificates, rather than shared secrets, are used for IKE authentication, then neither problem occurs. However, NTA Monitor found that in practice the majority of users use shared secret authentication rather than certificates because they are easier to configure and better understood by both sysadmins and users.

Check Point has not responded to our request for comment at time of writing. ®

External Links

|NTA Monitor's alert which contains detailed technical descriptions of the problem

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.