Advisory ID: cisco-sa-19980902-pix-mgr-file
For Public Release 1998 September 2 17:00 UTC (GMT)
The Cisco PIX Firewall product is shipped with a management application
known as PIX Firewall Manager, or PFM. PFM is a Worldwide-Web-based
application, and includes a limited HTTP server. The PFM HTTP server runs on
Windows NT computers. A vulnerability in the PFM HTTP server allows any
attacker who can connect to the server to retrieve any file known in advance to
exist on the Windows NT host. In almost all cases, this means that the host is
vulnerable to attack by any user inside the firewall, but not by users outside
This vulnerability was discovered and reported by Brett M. Oliphant,
Manager of Corporate Computer Security at Lafayette Life Insurance Company.
This advisory is posted at
This section provides details on affected products.
If you are running Cisco PIX Firewall Manager software for Windows NT,
as shipped with PIX Firewall versions up to and including 4.2(1), and if
untrusted users can make TCP connections to port 8080 on your PFM server, you
are affected by this vulnerability.
No other Cisco products are currently known to be affected by these
This vulnerability has been assigned Cisco Bug ID CSCdk39378.
Cisco has provided scores for the vulnerabilities in this advisory based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). The CVSS scoring in this Security Advisory is done in accordance with CVSS version 2.0.
CVSS is a standards-based scoring method that conveys vulnerability severity and helps determine urgency and priority of response.
Cisco has provided a base and temporal score. Customers can then compute environmental scores to assist in determining the impact of the vulnerability in individual networks.
Cisco has provided an FAQ to answer additional questions regarding CVSS at
Cisco has also provided a CVSS calculator to help compute the environmental impact for individual networks at
To exploit this vulnerability, attackers must be able to make TCP
connections to port 8080 on the NT host on which you have installed PFM. In all
recommended configurations and in the overwhelming majority of actual
installations, port 8080 of the PFM host can be reached only from inside the
PIX Firewall, not from the outside.
In addition, attackers must know or discover the names and locations of
the files they wish to read. This vulnerability does not permit "browsing" of
the NT host or reading of directories; attackers must know where the target
file is, or must make repeated attempts at guessing the location until the
target file is found.
If they can meet these prerequisites, attackers can retrieve any file
or files on the NT host on which PFM is installed, as well as any file or files
on network servers accessible through that host's file system. All files
readable to the "administrator" account are affected. In most cases, this
includes all files on the local disk, and many or most files on network-mounted
volumes. In addition to obtaining confidential information directly, attackers
may be able to use information obtained from the retrieved files to help them
to conduct other attacks against the NT host.
This vulnerability can be exploited using ordinary tools available on
most networked computer systems. There is no need for a special exploitation
program, nor is there a need for any unusual technical skill. Although Cisco
will not release further details of how to exploit this vulnerability, we
believe that they could quickly be guessed at, based on the contents of this
advisory alone, by any person minimally sophisticated in such matters, and we
anticipate that other parties will publish these details shortly after the
release of this notice.
This vulnerability affects all releases of Cisco PIX Firewall Manager
up to, and including, release 4.2(1). 4.2(2) beta releases are also affected.
Fixed versions are available for both 4.1-based and 4.2-based versions of PFM.
The fixed version for 4.1 is 4.1( 6b). To use PFM version 4.1(6b), you
must install software version 4.1(6) on the PIX Firewall itself.
The fixed version for 4.2 is 4.2(2), which will be released along with
4.2(2) software for the PIX Firewall itself. 4.2(1) PIX Firewall software is
under line stop because of software quality issues, and is not recommended for
use or installation. Therefore, there will be no PFM fix for 4.2(1) PIX
Firewall software. Customers who are using 4.2(1) are advised to downgrade to
version 4.1(6) on their PIX Firewalls, and to install PFM 4.1(6b). If this is
not possible, customers should use the workarounds listed below.
All releases subsequent to these repaired releases will also include
the fix. There will be no future vulnerable PFM releases.
Because a software fix is available, Cisco believes that the best
response for the vast majority of customers is to upgrade to repaired software.
These workarounds are offered only for customers who are unable to upgrade for
We believe that many customers have installed the PIX Firewall Manager
product on their NT workstations, but have finalized their PIX Firewall
configurations and are no longer actively using PFM. The most effective
workaround for these customers is simply to uninstall PFM, and to reinstall a
repaired version later if necessary.
Another possible workaround is to use firewall devices, such as the PIX
Firewall itself, to prevent untrusted users from making connections to port
8080 on the NT host on which PFM in installed. Depending on the customer
configuration, it may be desirable to move the NT host to the PIX Firewall's
DMZ network to prevent access by unauthorized inside users; the security of the
other systems on the DMZ network should be carefully considered in making this
It is not possible to stop the PFM HTTP server from using the NT
Cisco has made free software available to address this vulnerability
for affected customers. Prior to deploying software, customers should consult
their maintenance provider or check the software for feature set compatibility
and known issues specific to their environment.
Customers may only install and expect support for the feature sets they
have purchased. By installing, downloading, accessing or otherwise using such
software upgrades, customers agree to be bound by the terms of Cisco's software
license terms found at
or as otherwise set forth at Cisco.com Downloads at
Do not contact either "email@example.com" or "firstname.lastname@example.org"
for software upgrades.
Customers with contracts should obtain upgraded software through their
regular update channels. For most customers, this means that upgrades should be
obtained through the Software Center on Cisco's worldwide website at
Customers whose Cisco products are provided or maintained through prior
or existing agreement with third-party support organizations such as Cisco
Partners, authorized resellers, or service providers should contact that
support organization for guidance and assistance with the appropriate course of
action in regards to this advisory.
The effectiveness of any workaround or fix is dependent on specific
customer situations such as product mix, network topology, traffic behavior,
and organizational mission. Due to the variety of affected products and
releases, customers should consult with their service provider or support
organization to ensure any applied workaround or fix is the most appropriate
for use in the intended network before it is deployed.
Customers who purchase direct from Cisco but who do not hold a Cisco
service contract and customers who purchase through third-party vendors but are unsuccessful in obtaining fixed software through their point of sale should obtain software patches and bug fixes by contacting the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC). TAC
contacts are as follows.
+1 800 553 2447 (toll free from within North America)
+1 408 526 7209 (toll call from anywhere in the world)
Have your product serial number available and provide the URL of this notice as evidence of entitlement to a software patch or bug fix. Customers without service contracts should request a software patch or bug fix through the TAC.
for additional TAC contact information, including special localized telephone
numbers and instructions and e-mail addresses for use in various
Cisco has had no reports of malicious exploitation of this
vulnerability. However, such exploitation may reasonably be expected to begin
in the near future.
The existence of this vulnerability was publicly announced on the
"email@example.com" mailing list on Monday, August 31, 1998, and should be
considered to be widely known to exist. Exploitation details were not given.
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Initial released version
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