A vulnerability in the boot logic of Cisco IOS XE Software could allow an authenticated, local attacker with level 15 privileges or an unauthenticated attacker with physical access to execute arbitrary code on the underlying Linux operating system of an affected device.
This vulnerability is due to incorrect validations of specific function arguments that are passed to the boot script. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by tampering with a specific file, which an affected device would process during the initial boot process. On systems that are protected by the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot feature, a successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute unsigned code at boot time and bypass the image verification check in the secure boot process of the affected device.
Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.
This advisory is available at the following link:
This advisory is part of the March 2021 release of the Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software Security Advisory Bundled Publication. For a complete list of the advisories and links to them, see Cisco Event Response: March 2021 Semiannual Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software Security Advisory Bundled Publication.
This vulnerability affects the following Cisco devices if they are running a vulnerable release of Cisco IOS XE Software:
- Integrated Services Virtual Router
- Cloud Services Router 1000V Series
For information about which Cisco software releases are vulnerable, see the Fixed Software section of this advisory.
Products Confirmed Not Vulnerable
Only products listed in the Vulnerable Products section of this advisory are known to be affected by this vulnerability.
Cisco has confirmed that these vulnerabilities do not affect the following Cisco products:
- IOS Software
- IOS XR Software
- NX-OS Software
There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.
Cisco has released free software updates that address the vulnerability described in this advisory. Customers may only install and expect support for software versions and feature sets for which they have purchased a license. By installing, downloading, accessing, or otherwise using such software upgrades, customers agree to follow the terms of the Cisco software license:
Additionally, customers may only download software for which they have a valid license, procured from Cisco directly, or through a Cisco authorized reseller or partner. In most cases this will be a maintenance upgrade to software that was previously purchased. Free security software updates do not entitle customers to a new software license, additional software feature sets, or major revision upgrades.
When considering software upgrades, customers are advised to regularly consult the advisories for Cisco products, which are available from the Cisco Security Advisories page, to determine exposure and a complete upgrade solution.
In all cases, customers should ensure that the devices to be upgraded contain sufficient memory and confirm that current hardware and software configurations will continue to be supported properly by the new release. If the information is not clear, customers are advised to contact the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) or their contracted maintenance providers.
Customers Without Service Contracts
Customers who purchase directly from Cisco but do not hold a Cisco service contract and customers who make purchases through third-party vendors but are unsuccessful in obtaining fixed software through their point of sale should obtain upgrades by contacting the Cisco TAC: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/web/tsd-cisco-worldwide-contacts.html
Customers should have the product serial number available and be prepared to provide the URL of this advisory as evidence of entitlement to a free upgrade.
Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software
To help customers determine their exposure to vulnerabilities in Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software, Cisco provides the Cisco Software Checker to identify any Cisco Security Advisories that impact a specific software release and the earliest release that fixes the vulnerabilities described in each advisory (“First Fixed”). If applicable, the tool also returns the earliest release that fixes all the vulnerabilities described in all the advisories identified (“Combined First Fixed”).
Customers can use the Cisco Software Checker to search advisories in the following ways:
- Choose the software and one or more releases
- Upload a .txt file that includes a list of specific releases
- Enter the output of the show version command
After initiating a search, customers can customize the search to include all Cisco Security Advisories, a specific advisory, or all advisories in the most recent bundled publication.
Customers can also use the following form to determine whether a release is affected by any Cisco Security Advisory by entering a Cisco IOS or IOS XE Software release—for example, 15.1(4)M2 or 3.13.8S:
By default, the Cisco Software Checker includes results only for vulnerabilities that have a Critical or High Security Impact Rating (SIR). To include results for Medium SIR vulnerabilities, customers can use the Cisco Software Checker on Cisco.com and check the Medium check box in the drop-down list under Impact Rating when customizing a search.
For a mapping of Cisco IOS XE Software releases to Cisco IOS Software releases, refer to the Cisco IOS XE 2 Release Notes, Cisco IOS XE 3S Release Notes, or Cisco IOS XE 3SG Release Notes, depending on the Cisco IOS XE Software release.
The Cisco Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerability that is described in this advisory.
This vulnerability was found during internal security testing by X.B. of the Cisco Advanced Security Initiatives Group (ASIG).
To learn about Cisco security vulnerability disclosure policies and publications, see the Security Vulnerability Policy. This document also contains instructions for obtaining fixed software and receiving security vulnerability information from Cisco.
Version Description Section Status Date 1.0 Initial public release. — Final 2021-MAR-24
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