Security appliances are riddled with serious vulnerabilities, researcher says
Companies should not assume that security products are implicitly secure, the researcher said
IDG News Service - The majority of email and Web gateways, firewalls, remote access servers, UTM (united threat management) systems and other security appliances have serious vulnerabilities, according to a security researcher who analyzed products from multiple vendors.
Most security appliances are poorly maintained Linux systems with insecure Web applications installed on them, according to Ben Williams, a penetration tester at NCC Group, who presented his findings Thursday at the Black Hat Europe 2013 security conference in Amsterdam. His talk was entitled, "Ironic Exploitation of Security Products."
Williams investigated products from some of the leading security vendors, including Symantec, Sophos, Trend Micro, Cisco, Barracuda, McAfee and Citrix. Some were analyzed as part of penetration tests, some as part of product evaluations for customers, and others in his spare time.
More than 80 percent of the tested products had serious vulnerabilities that were relatively easy to find, at least for an experienced researcher, Williams said. Many of these vulnerabilities were in the Web-based user interfaces of the products, he said.
The interfaces of almost all tested security appliances had no protection against brute-force password cracking and had cross-site scripting flaws that allowed session hijacking. Most of them also exposed information about the product model and version to unauthenticated users, which would have made it easier for attackers to discover appliances that are known to be vulnerable.
Another common type of vulnerability found in such interfaces was cross-site request forgery. Such flaws allow attackers to access administration functions by tricking authenticated administrators into visiting malicious websites. Many interfaces also had vulnerabilities that allowed command injection and privilege escalation.
Flaws that Williams found less frequently included direct-authentication bypasses, out-of-band cross-site scripting, on-site request forgery, denial of service and SSH misconfiguration. There were a lot of other, more obscure issues as well, he said.
During his presentation, Williams presented several examples of flaws he found last year in appliances from Sophos, Symantec and Trend Micro that could be used to gain full control over the products. A white paper with more details about his findings and recommendations for vendors and users was published on the NCC Group website.
Often at trade shows, vendors claim that their products run on "hardened" Linux, according to Williams. "I disagree," he said.
Most tested appliances were actually poorly maintained Linux systems with outdated kernel versions, old and unnecessary packages installed, and other poor configurations, Williams said. Their file systems were not "hardened" either, as there was no integrity checking, no SELinux or AppArmour kernel security features, and it was rare to find non-writeable or non-executable file systems.
A big problem is that companies often believe that because these appliances are security products created by security vendors, they are inherently secure, which is definitely a mistake, Williams said.
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- Magic Quadrant for Data Masking Technology IBM is a leader in Gartner Inc's Magic Quadrant for Data Masking Technology. Read the full report to learn about IBM.
- 5 Ways Dropbox for Business Keeps Your Data Protected Protecting your data isn't a feature on a checklist, something to be tacked on as an afterthought. Download here to find out how...
- Evaluating File Sync and Share Solutions: 12 Questions to Ask about Security File sync and share can increase productivity, but how do you pick a solution that works for you? Download to learn some important...
- The Key to Happiness: Throw out Your Data Warehouse In this webinar, Kerry Reitnauer, Director, Solution Architect at FairPoint Communications will discuss the challenges the data warehouse brought, how they migrated to...
- Building Tomorrow's Data Center with Converged Technologies A number of forces are converging: the cloud, converged infrastructure, big data and fabric architectures to name a few. All Data Center White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!