More than 840,000 Cisco devices are vulnerable to NSA-related exploit

The vulnerability could allow hackers to extract potentially sensitive information from devices' memory

More than 840,000 Cisco networking devices from around the world are exposed to a vulnerability that's similar to one exploited by a hacking group believed to be linked to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The vulnerability was announced by Cisco last week and it affects the IOS, IOS XE, and IOS XR software that powers many of its networking devices. The flaw allows hackers to remotely extract the contents of a device's memory, which can lead to the exposure of sensitive information.

The vulnerability stems from how the OS processes IKEv1 (Internet Key Exchange version 1) requests. This key exchange protocol is used for VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and other features that are popular in enterprise environments.

Cisco discovered the vulnerability internally after analyzing an exploit for Cisco PIX firewalls that was leaked last month by a hacking outfit called Shadow Brokers. The exploit was part of a larger set of attack tools that Shadow Brokers claimed are being used by a cyberespionage group known in the security industry as the Equation, believed to be linked to the NSA.

Because other hackers could find the same flaw by analyzing the exploit leaked by Shadow Brokers, Cisco decided to inform its customers about it through a security advisory, even though the company is still working on developing and releasing patches.

Many of the affected IOS, IOS XE, and IOS XR releases don't yet have fixed versions, but Cisco released detection signatures for intrusion prevention systems that could be used to protect networks from potential attacks.

The Shadowserver Foundation, an organization that tracks cybercrime and assists with botnet takedowns, has started an internet-wide scan to find Cisco devices affected by this vulnerability with the goal of reporting them to their owners.

Its latest scan, which ran for two and a half hours on Wednesday, identified devices with 840,681 distinct IP addresses that responded as vulnerable to the probe.

The U.S. is the country with the largest number of vulnerable devices -- 255,606 -- followed by Russia with 42,281, and the United Kingdom with 42,138. Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, France, Australia, and China complete the top 10.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ciscogovernment

More about CiscoNational Security AgencyNSA

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place