Security Experts:

Flaws Allow Attackers to Hijack VMware vRA Appliances

VMware informed customers on Tuesday that it has addressed a couple of vulnerabilities that can be chained together and exploited by attackers to take complete control of vRealize Automation (vRA) appliances.

One of the flaws, tracked as CVE-2016-5335, can be exploited by an attacker with access to a low-privileged account to escalate their permissions to root. The flaw affects vRA 7.0.x and VMware Identity Manager 2.x.

The second vulnerability, CVE-2016-5336, can be exploited for remote code execution, allowing an attacker to gain access to a low-privileged account on the affected vRA 7.0.x appliance via port 40002.

Remote code execution flaws are often rated critical. However, in this case, VMware decided to rate this issue “important” due to the fact that an attacker can only access a service account with minimal privileges.

However, while taken separately these vulnerabilities are not critical, VMware has warned that an attacker could combine them and completely compromise a vRA appliance – use CVE-2016-5336 to gain access to a low-privileged account and CVE-2016-5335 to escalate their privileges on that account.

The flaws have been patched in VMware Identity Manager version 2.7 and vRA version 7.1. As a workaround, customers can prevent attacks involving CVE-2016-5336 by creating specific firewall rules in the vRA appliance.

Users have been advised to update vRA to version 7.1 as soon as possible or apply the workaround.

VMware also informed customers on Tuesday that it has updated an older advisory describing a critical deserialization vulnerability to clarify that vRealize Operations appliances prior to version 6.2 are also affected.

Earlier this month, researchers detailed a VMware Tools vulnerability that can be exploited to hijack a DLL and execute arbitrary code on the targeted system.

Related: VMware Patches Critical Vulnerability

Related: VMware Patches Critical Flaw in NSX, vCNS Products

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at 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.