Security Experts:

Cisco IOS Flaws Expose Rockwell Industrial Switches to Remote Attacks

Rockwell Automation has informed customers that some of its Allen-Bradley Stratix and ArmorStratix industrial ethernet switches are exposed to remote attacks due to vulnerabilities in Cisco’s IOS software.

The Allen-Bradley Stratix and ArmorStratix switches, which ICS-CERT says are used worldwide in the critical manufacturing, energy and water sectors, rely on Cisco’s IOS software for secure integration with enterprise networks. That means Cisco IOS flaws can also affect Rockwell Automation products.

In this case, Rockwell Automation alerted customers of nine high severity Cisco IOS and IOS XE vulnerabilities affecting the software’s Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) subsystem.

The flaws, disclosed by Cisco in late June, affect versions 1, 2c and 3 of SNMP, and they allow an authenticated attacker to remotely execute code and take control of the affected system or cause the device to reload. The security holes can be exploited by sending a specially crafted SNMP packet via IPv4 or IPv6.

“To exploit these vulnerabilities via SNMP Version 2c or earlier, the attacker must know the SNMP read-only community string for the affected system. To exploit these vulnerabilities via SNMP Version 3, the attacker must have user credentials for the affected system,” Cisco said in its advisory.

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Cisco, which discovered the vulnerabilities during internal testing, found no evidence of exploitation for malicious purposes, but the networking giant said people outside the company also knew about their existence.

In the case of Allen-Bradley switches, the flaws affect Stratix 5400, 5410, 5700 and 8000 devices running version 15.2(5)EA.fc4 and earlier of the firmware, Stratix 5900 version 15.6(3)M1 and earlier, Stratix 8300 version 15.2(4)EA and earlier, and ArmorStratix 5700 version 15.2(5)EA.fc4 and earlier.

The vulnerabilities have been addressed in Stratix 8300 devices with the release of version 15.2(4a)EA5. Until patches are released for the other affected products, Rockwell has advised customers to disable specific management information bases (MIBs), use strong SNMP credentials since an attacker needs to be authenticated, use firewalls and other systems to prevent unauthorized SNMP requests, and use the Snort rules provided by Cisco to detect exploits.

Related: Several Vulnerabilities Found in Rockwell Automation PLCs

Related: Rockwell Automation Addresses Flaws in Programmable Controllers

Related: High Severity Flaws Patched in Rockwell Automation Tools

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.