Feeds

OS exploits are 'old hat'

Cisco Black Hat talk illustrates wider security risks

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Analysis Security issues involving Cisco kit highlighted in Michael Lynn’s presentation at Black Hat are characteristic of networking vendors in general. Cisco is just the most visible of these vendors to target as hackers raise their sights from attacking operating systems towards attacking network infrastructure and database systems, security researchers warn.

According to vulnerability management firm nCircle, virtually all the network vendors tend to run monolithic, closed OSs that are mission-critical for their customers and doesn't lend itself well to the simplistic desktop patching models currently in place. nCircle reckons as Microsoft's security gradually improves hackers will look to others mechanisms of attack - a trend that puts networking equipment in the firing line.

Rooted routers

Timothy Keanini, CTO at nCircle, said that "as Microsoft raises the bar with countermeasures the threat goes elsewhere". Keanini, who attended Lynn’s presentation, said that it built on other research by German hacker FX, into security vulnerabilities with embedded systems such as routers and even printers. Compromised printers could be used to scan for vulnerabilities elsewhere in a network while rooted routers pose an even greater risk.

Cisco controversially slapped a restraining order on Lynn after he gave a talk on security weaknesses with the networking giant's core IOS software at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas last month. Lynn quit his job at security tools vendor ISS in order to give a presentation about how it might be possible to remotely compromise Cisco routers and run malign code. Cisco said that Lynn had failed to follow approved industry practices in disclosing security vulnerabilities. It also took issue with Lynn's "irresponsible public disclosure of illegally obtained proprietary information".

Database security pitfalls

There's general agreement among security researchers that there's more interest in the digital underground in developing exploits to exploit network security flaws. Such exploits could be used to carry out denial of service attacks but some researchers reckon database systems offer a more lucrative target. Nigel Beighton, Symantec's director of enterprise strategy, EMEA, said that databases are the repository of sensitive corporate information and therefore a natural place to attack. The issue is compounded by a lack of adequate database security technology and infrequent patching schedules, he added.

Roy Hills, technical director at security consultant NTA Monitor, said that it sees a mixture of networking and software patching vulnerabilities when it carries out penetration testing work on behalf of clients. Security bugs in bespoke web application are also a frequent, and growing, source of problems. "Understanding the pitfalls of web application security is not as simple as following a recipe," Hills added. ®

Related stories

Cisco, ISS file suit against rogue researcher
Settlement reached in Cisco flaw dispute
Cisco details Black Hat vuln fix
Exploit writers team up to target Cisco routers
Cisco portal password security compromised
Cisco security flap leaves millions scrambling for help
Reverse engineering patches making disclosure a moot choice?
Oracle moves to quarterly patch cycle
Oracle 'sitting on security fixes'

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.