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Cisco PIX Firewall Authentication Denial of Service Vulnerability

Advisory ID: cisco-sa-20011003-pix-firewall-auth-flood

http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20011003-pix-firewall-auth-flood

Revision 1.0

For Public Release 2001 October 3 16:00  UTC (GMT)


Summary

The Cisco Secure PIX Firewall AAA authentication feature, introduced in version 4.0, is vulnerable to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack initiated by authenticating users on the system. This vulnerability affects specific configurations and has been resolved in released versions of the PIX Firewall.

This vulnerability has been assigned Cisco bug ID CSCdt92339.

The complete notice will be available at http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20011003-pix-firewall-auth-flood.

Affected Products

This section provides details on affected products.

Vulnerable Products

All users of Cisco Secure PIX Firewalls with software versions 4.0 up to and including 4.4(8), 5.0(3), 5.1(3), 5.2(2), and 5.3(1) with configurations using AAA authentication are at risk.

Affected configurations will have configuration lines that begin:

pixfirewall#  aaa authentication ...

Products Confirmed Not Vulnerable

Configurations not including aaa authentication are not affected. PIX Firewall software versions 6.0(1) and later are not affected.

The IOS Firewall feature set is not affected by the above defect.

No other Cisco products are currently known to be affected by these vulnerabilities.

Details

When AAA authentication services are configured on the Cisco Secure PIX Firewall, it is possible for a single source address to consume all of the authentication resources, preventing other legitimate users from authenticating. This is a denial of service strictly for the authentication resources; other established traffic continues unaffected, and only new authentication requests are prevented.

This vulnerability has been resolved in the recent versions of the PIX Firewall by creating a maximum limit of three open authentication requests per user.

Cisco Bug ID CSCdv09731 amends this limitation to allow system administrators to modify this limit, depending on their network requirements.

Vulnerability Scoring Details

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
http://www.cisco.com/web/about/security/intelligence/cvss-qandas.html .

Cisco has also provided a CVSS calculator to help compute the environmental impact for individual networks at
http://intellishield.cisco.com/security/alertmanager/cvss .


Impact

This issue causes a PIX Firewall to be vulnerable to a DoS attack in which the availability of the unit is degraded. This does not result in a loss in confidentiality or in loss of integrity of the traffic being filtered.

Software Versions and Fixes

When considering software upgrades, also consult http://www.cisco.com/go/psirt and any subsequent advisories to determine exposure and a complete upgrade solution.

In all cases, customers should exercise caution to be certain the devices to be upgraded contain sufficient memory and that current hardware and software configurations will continue to be supported properly by the new release. If the information is not clear, contact the Cisco Technical Assistance Center ("TAC") or your contracted maintenance provider for assistance.

Version Affected

Interim Release

Fix carries forward into all later versions

Fixed Regular Release (available now)

Fix carries forward into all later versions

All versions of Cisco Secure PIX up to and including version 4.4(8)

 

Upgrade to 5.2(6)

Version 5.0 and Version 5.1

 

Upgrade to 5.2(6)

Version 5.2(2)

5.2(5.204)

5.2.(6)

Version 5.3.x up to and including version 5.3(1)

5.3(1.203)

5.3(2)

Workarounds

There is no known workaround for all authentication types.

If authentication is configured in conjunction with the Virtual HTTP feature, a limit of three concurrent authentication attempts per user exists, which could prevent this denial of service for HTTP traffic only. This would have no effect on authentication attempts for FTP or Telnet if the PIX is configured for authentication of those services.

Obtaining Fixed Software

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 http://www.cisco.com/public/sw-license-agreement.html, or as otherwise set forth at Cisco.com Downloads at http://www.cisco.com/public/sw-center/sw-usingswc.shtml.

Do not contact either "psirt@cisco.com" or "security-alert@cisco.com" for software upgrades.

Customers with Service Contracts

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 http://www.cisco.com.

Customers using Third Party Support Organizations

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 without Service Contracts

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 at obtaining fixed software through their point of sale should get their upgrades 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)
  • e-mail: tac@cisco.com

Have your product serial number available and give the URL of this notice as evidence of your entitlement to a free upgrade. Free upgrades for non-contract customers must be requested through the TAC.

Refer to http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/687/Directory/DirTAC.shtml for additional TAC contact information, including special localized telephone numbers and instructions and e-mail addresses for use in various languages.

Exploitation and Public Announcements

This vulnerability has been publicly discussed on the Bugtraq list maintained by SecurityFocus at http://www.securityfocus.com/archive/1/174577 leavingcisco.com. Cisco has no evidence or knowledge of exploitation of this vulnerability; this was discovered when a program on a customer site utilized all authentication resources.

Status of this Notice: Final

THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" BASIS AND DOES NOT IMPLY ANY KIND OF GUARANTEE OR WARRANTY, INCLUDING THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR USE. YOUR USE OF THE INFORMATION ON THE DOCUMENT OR MATERIALS LINKED FROM THE DOCUMENT IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. CISCO RESERVES THE RIGHT TO CHANGE OR UPDATE THIS DOCUMENT AT ANY TIME.

A stand-alone copy or Paraphrase of the text of this document that omits the distribution URL in the following section is an uncontrolled copy, and may lack important information or contain factual errors.


Distribution

This advisory will be posted on Cisco's worldwide website at http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20011003-pix-firewall-auth-flood.

In addition to worldwide web posting, a text version of this notice is clear-signed with the Cisco PSIRT PGP key and is posted to the following e-mail and Usenet news recipients.

  • cust-security-announce@cisco.com
  • bugtraq@securityfocus.com
  • firewalls@lists.gnac.com
  • first-teams@first.org (includes CERT/CC)
  • cisco@spot.colorado.edu
  • cisco-nsp@puck.nether.net
  • comp.dcom.sys.cisco
  • Various internal Cisco mailing lists

Future updates of this advisory, if any, will be placed on Cisco's worldwide website, but may or may not be actively announced on mailing lists or newsgroups. Users concerned about this problem are encouraged to check the above URL for any updates.


Revision History

Revision 1.0

2001-October-03

For public release.

Cisco Security Procedures

Complete information on reporting security vulnerabilities in Cisco products, obtaining assistance with security incidents, and registering to receive security information from Cisco, is available on Cisco's worldwide website at http://www.cisco.com/web/about/security/psirt/security_vulnerability_policy.html. This includes instructions for press inquiries regarding Cisco security notices. All Cisco security advisories are available at http://www.cisco.com/go/psirt.