Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software Smart Install Remote Code Execution Vulnerability [CVE-2018-0171]

A vulnerability in the Smart Install feature of Cisco IOS Software and Cisco IOS XE Software could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to trigger a reload of an affected device, resulting in a denial of service (DoS) condition, or to execute arbitrary code on an affected device.

CVE Number – CVE-2018-0171

The vulnerability is due to improper validation of packet data. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted Smart Install message to an affected device on TCP port 4786. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to cause a buffer overflow on the affected device, which could have the following impacts:

  • Triggering a reload of the device
  • Allowing the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the device
  • Causing an indefinite loop on the affected device that triggers a watchdog crash

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:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20180328-smi2

This advisory is part of the March 28, 2018, release of the Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software Security Advisory Bundled Publication, which includes 20 Cisco Security Advisories that describe 22 vulnerabilities. For a complete list of the advisories and links to them, see Cisco Event Response: March 2018 Semiannual Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software Security Advisory Bundled Publication.

Affected Products
  • Vulnerable Products

    This vulnerability affects Cisco devices that are running a vulnerable release of Cisco IOS or IOS XE Software and have the Smart Install client feature enabled.

    Only Smart Install client switches are affected by the vulnerability that is described in this advisory. Cisco devices that are configured as a Smart Install director are not affected by this vulnerability.

    For information about which Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software releases are vulnerable, see the Fixed Software section of this advisory.

    Notes Regarding Specific Releases

    Smart Install client functionality is enabled by default on Cisco IOS switches on software releases that have not been updated to address Cisco bug ID CSCvd36820.

    Switches that are running releases earlier than Cisco IOS Software Release 12.2(52)SE are not capable of running Smart Install, but they can be Smart Install clients if they support the archive download-sw privileged EXEC command.

    Determining Whether the Smart Install Client Feature Is Enabled

    To determine whether a device is configured with the Smart Install client feature enabled, use the show vstack config privileged EXEC command on the Smart Install client. An output of Role: Clientand Oper Mode: Enabled or Role: Client (SmartInstall enabled) from the show vstack configcommand confirms that the feature is enabled on the device.

    The following examples show the output of the show vstack config command on Cisco Catalyst Switches that are configured as Smart Install clients:

    switch1# show vstack config
     Role: Client (SmartInstall enabled)
     .
     .
     .
    
    switch2# show vstack config
     Capability: Client
     Oper Mode: Enabled
     Role: Client
     .
     .
     .

    Determining the Cisco IOS Software Release

    To determine which Cisco IOS Software release is running on a device, administrators can log in to the device, use the show version command in the CLI, and then refer to the system banner that appears. If the device is running Cisco IOS Software, the system banner displays text similar to Cisco Internetwork Operating System Software or Cisco IOS Software. The banner also displays the installed image name in parentheses, followed by the Cisco IOS Software release number and release name. Some Cisco devices do not support the show version command or may provide different output.

    The following example shows the output of the command for a device that is running Cisco IOS Software Release 15.5(2)T1 and has an installed image name of C2951-UNIVERSALK9-M:

    Router> show version
    
    Cisco IOS Software, C2951 Software (C2951-UNIVERSALK9-M), Version 15.5(2)T1, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)
    Technical Support: http://www.cisco.com/techsupport
    Copyright (c) 1986-2015 by Cisco Systems, Inc.
    Compiled Mon 22-Jun-15 09:32 by prod_rel_team
    .
    .
    .

    For information about the naming and numbering conventions for Cisco IOS Software releases, see the Cisco IOS and NX-OS Software Reference Guide.

    Determining the Cisco IOS XE Software Release

    To determine which Cisco IOS XE Software release is running on a device, administrators can log in to the device, use the show version command in the CLI, and then refer to the system banner that appears. If the device is running Cisco IOS XE Software, the system banner displays Cisco IOS SoftwareCisco IOS XE Software, or similar text.

    The following example shows the output of the command for a device that is running Cisco IOS XE Software Release 16.2.1 and has an installed image name of CAT3K_CAA-UNIVERSALK9-M:

    ios-xe-device# show version
    
    Cisco IOS Software, Catalyst L3 Switch Software (CAT3K_CAA-UNIVERSALK9-M), Version Denali 16.2.1, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)
    Technical Support: http://www.cisco.com/techsupport
    Copyright (c) 1986-2016 by Cisco Systems, Inc.
    Compiled Sun 27-Mar-16 21:47 by mcpre
    .
    .
    .

    For information about the naming and numbering conventions for Cisco IOS XE Software releases, see the Cisco IOS and NX-OS Software Reference Guide.

    Products Confirmed Not Vulnerable

    No other Cisco products are currently known to be affected by this vulnerability.

    Cisco has confirmed that this vulnerability does not affect Cisco IOS XR Software or Cisco NX-OS Software.



Details
  • Cisco Smart Install is a “plug-and-play” configuration and image-management feature that provides zero-touch deployment for new (typically access layer) switches. The feature allows a customer to ship a Cisco switch to any location, install it in the network, and power it on without additional configuration requirements. The Smart Install feature incorporates no authentication by design.

    A Smart Install network consists of exactly one Smart Install director switch or router, also known as an integrated branch director (IBD), and one or more Smart Install client switches, also known as integrated branch clients (IBCs). A client switch does not need to be directly connected to the director; the client switch can be up to seven hops away.

    The director provides a single management point for images and configuration of client switches. When a client switch is first installed in the network, the director automatically detects the new switch and identifies the correct Cisco IOS Software image and the configuration file for downloading. The director can also allocate an IP address and hostname to a client.

Workarounds
  • There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability for customers who require the use of Cisco Smart Install. For customers not requiring Cisco Smart Install, the feature can be disabled with the no vstack command. In software releases that are associated with Cisco Bug ID CSCvd36820, Cisco Smart Install will auto-disable if not in use.

    Administrators are encouraged to consult the informational security advisory on Cisco Smart Install Protocol Misuse and the Smart Install Configuration Guide.

Fixed Software
  • 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:
    https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/end-user-license-agreement.html

    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 and Alerts 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.




Duncan Newell

Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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