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Cisco Warns of SNMP Vulnerability

Researchers have found a pair of vulnerabilities in version 3 of the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMPv3) that could allow attackers to gather system data or even change network equipment configurations, according to an advisory issued by Cisco Systems earlier this week.

SNMP is a standardized protocol used for remotely monitoring and managing network devices. This security can be exploited by sending malformed SNMPv3 messages. Machines running SNMPv3 will accept incomplete authentication packets, allowing a malicious user with a valid username for that machine to guess at authentication code.

Multiple Cisco products are vulnerable to this exploitation, though SNMP is disabled by default in Cisco gear. Equipment running the Cisco IOS, CatOS and the IOS-XR operating systems may be vulnerable. Administrations should log in to such equipment to find out which version of SNMP the equipment runs. Only version 3 of SNMP is affected.

Cisco's advisory offers links to patches and describes how administrators can change their equipment's setting to guard against exploitation.

In addition to certain Cisco products, network equipment by other vendors using SNMPv3 may also affected, including gear sold by 3Com, Apple Computer, Avaya, CA, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Juniper Networks, McAfee, Network Appliance, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems and others, according to the United States Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT).

This vulnerability has been assigned Vulnerability Note VU#878044 by US-CERT and identifier CVE-2008-0960 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the chief technology editor of Government Computing News (GCN.com).