Feeds

Cisco, ISS file suit against rogue researcher

'The right thing to do here is to make sure that everyone knows that it's vulnerable'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

The controversy is the latest rift between security researchers who find vulnerabilities and the software companies whose products contain the flaws. Last week, researchers at Red Database Security took Oracle to task for waiting more than two years to fix vulnerabilities. In April, UK-based researchers weathered legal threats from Sybase to negotiate an agreement in order to release details of several flaws in that company's database.

In the latest case, ISS and Lynn contacted Cisco in April to report their process for using a vulnerability in IOS to run a program on a Cisco router. The networking fixed the vulnerability in the operating system, but did nothing to prevent attackers from running programs on the devices using the broad techniques Lynn described, the researcher said.

During his presentation, Lynn outlined an eight step process using any known, but unpatched flaw, to compromise a Cisco IOS-based router. While he did not publish any vulnerabilities, Lynn said that finding new flaws would not be hard.

"People aren't looking at this because they don't think gaining control of a router is doable, but there are a lot of bugs to find," he said.

Executives from Internet Security Systems defended their decision to cancel the session. The presentation had been pulled because it was "incomplete," said Chris Rouland , chief technology officer for the Altanta, Georgia-based company.

"We had been working with Cisco to explore the viability of exploitation of older IOS vulnerabilities," Rouland said. "We felt that we had done as much as we could on our own and needed to approach Cisco."

Both Cisco and ISS recommended that customers update their router software on a regular basis. Moreover, the sheer number of different models of routers and gateways makes it more difficult for an attacker to create an exploit to work against them all.

In a presentation that had all the hallmarks of good theater, Lynn stated several times that the information that he was presenting would likely result in legal action against him.

"What I just did means that I'm about to get sued by Cisco and ISS," Lynn said, joking later that he may be "in Guantanamo" by the end of the week.

However, Lynn argued that the seriousness of the attack left him no choice but to let people know the existence of the weakness in the software. Cisco plans in the future to abstract the architecture of the router operating system in the future, which could have a side effect of making a single attack work against all routers. Rather then knowing the various memory addresses, or offsets, needed to compromise systems, a single offset could work, Lynn said.

"What politicians are talking about when they talk about the Digital Pearl Harbor is a network worm," he said. "That's what we could see in the future, if this isn't fixed."

Copyright © 2005, SecurityFocus logo

Related stories

Cisco patches security software
Cisco source code theft part of 'mega-hack'
Unholy trio pose DDoS risk for Cisco kit
MS mulls charging for anti-spyware app
Cisco patches VoIP vuln

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.