Cisco issues critical vulnerability alert for devices using WebVPN

Cisco plugs critical hole in many of its enterprise security appliances

Cisco plugs critical hole in many of its enterprise security appliances

ASA operating system launched by Cisco for its popular fleet of network security devices is now going through a critical double-free vulnerability in the feature of Secure Sockets Layer VPN, which the company warns as it could permit an unauthenticated remote attacker in order to execute code remotely or trigger a reload within the affected system.

Cisco has issued a patch for the vulnerability. If exploited, hackers will be able to force a reload, execute an arbitrary code, and even take full control of the compromised system. The feature does not need any proprietary software or certificate from the company for employees to access the online resources. The vulnerability is in the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) of Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) devices. The flaw, which was discovered by Cedric Halbronn from the NCC Group and which Cisco disclosed on Monday, is rated 10 out of 10 in severity.

Clients should first check the security advisory released by Cisco for the list of products that are vulnerable to the exploit.

Cisco said that it is not aware of any hacking attacks that exploit the risky VPN bug, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

"The vulnerability is due to an attempt to double free a region of memory when the webvpn feature is enabled on the Cisco ASA device", Cisco wrote in its alert. However, companies that now have no maintenance contracts with Cisco will need to contact the company's Technical Assistance Center to acquire the necessary patches. Some security professionals Ars communicated with expressed frustration with the slow response they got from Cisco's TAC. The spokesperson added that Cisco immediately published the security advisory after learning about the VPN bug and subsequently released a patch to address the problem.

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