Security Experts:

GE Patches Critical Flaw in Industrial Switches

General Electric has released firmware updates for several of its MultiLink series switches to address a critical vulnerability that hackers could exploit to gain administrative access to devices.

GE’s MultiLink managed ethernet switches are designed for industrial, transportation and substation networks. The vendor says the product is deployed worldwide in the critical manufacturing, energy and water sectors.

According to an advisory published on Thursday by ICS-CERT, MultiLink switches have hardcoded credentials that allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to log in to the device with administrator privileges and access configuration options through the web interface.

The issue has been assigned the CVE identifier CVE-2016-2310 and a CVSS score of 10, which puts it in the “critical severity” category. ICS-CERT says that while there is no evidence that the flaw has been targeted in the wild, it can be exploited even by an attacker with low skill. 

Related: Registration for 2016 ICS Cyber Security Conference Now Open

The vulnerability affects GE ML800, ML810, ML1200, ML1600, ML2400, ML3000 and ML3100 switches. The security hole was plugged by the vendor with the release of firmware version 5.5.0k for ML810, ML3000 and ML3100, and with the release of firmware version 5.5.0 for the other vulnerable products. All prior versions of the firmware are impacted.

Cisco noted in its own advisory that once they gain access to the device’s configuration options, attackers could conduct other malicious activities.

ICS-CERT has published nearly two dozen advisories describing vulnerabilities in GE products since 2011, and this was not the first time hardcoded credentials had been found. In the past year, researchers discovered a hardcoded support account in MDS PulseNET monitoring applications, and hardcoded encryption keys in MultiLink ML800 and ML810 switches.

Related: Hardcoded Keys Put Westermo Industrial Switches at Risk

Related: Unpatched Flaw Plagues Cisco Industrial Switches

view counter
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.