VMware and Cisco patch vulnerabilities in datacentre gear and software

Cisco fixed a vulnerability in server baseband management controllers and VMware in network virtualisation products

VMware and Cisco Systems have released security fixes for serious vulnerabilities in networking virtualisation and server software typically used in datacentres.

Cisco patched a persistent denial-of-service vulnerability that could prevent the out-of-band management of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) E-Series Blade servers that are deployed in Cisco Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (ISR G2).

The vulnerability is located in the SSH (Secure Shell) service of the Cisco Integrated Management Controller (Cisco IMC), a specialised micro-controller embedded in server motherboards that allows systems administrators to monitor and manage servers from outside their OS.

Cisco has released version 2.3.1 of the Cisco IMC firmware for UCS E-Series servers. Customers need to use the Host Upgrade Utility in order to deploy the new firmware.

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team published an alert about the issue.

If left unpatched, an attacker could exploit the vulnerability by sending a specially crafted packet to the vulnerable SSH server, forcing the IMC to become unresponsive. This could impact the availability of the entire server.

"Recovery of the Cisco IMC will likely require a restart of the affected E-Series Server via physical interaction with the blade's power switch, or a restart of the ISR G2 router that the device is installed in," Cisco said in an advisory. "A restart of the E-Series blades via the power switch will cause a loss of power to the operating system running on the device. A restart of the ISR G2 router will cause a loss of all traffic passing through the router while it restarts as well as impacting the blade servers installed in the device."

VMware released security updates for its NSX and vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) products in order to patch what the company called "a critical information disclosure" vulnerability. The company's advisory does not clarify what kind of information can be disclosed by exploiting the issue, but both the NSX and vCNS products are used for virtualising network services.

The VMware NSX allows datacentre administrators to create, provision, snapshot, delete and restore complex networks programmatically from software by utilising the underlying physical network just for packet forwarding. VCNS provides networking and security functionality for virtualised computing environments through services like a virtual firewall, virtual private network (VPN), load balancing, NAT, DHCP and VXLAN-extended networks.

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