Security Experts:

Hackers Exploiting Recently Patched ManageEngine Desktop Central Vulnerability

A recently disclosed vulnerability affecting Zoho’s ManageEngine Desktop Central endpoint management solution is already being exploited in attacks.

Researcher Steven Seeley of Source Incite last week decided to disclose a critical Desktop Central vulnerability that can be exploited by a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code with elevated privileges. Seeley said he did not inform the vendor of his findings because the company “typically ignores researchers.”

The flaw, tracked as CVE-2020-10189, was patched by ManageEngine over the weekend with the release of version 10.0.479. Following reports that the vulnerability has been exploited in the wild, the vendor also published an advisory with instructions for identifying a compromised installation.

Several researchers and companies have reported seeing attacks exploiting CVE-2020-10189 and some have already started releasing indicators of compromise (IOCs).

The attackers are apparently exploiting the Desktop Central vulnerability to drop malware. Recon Infosec’s Eric Capuano noted on Twitter that in at least one attack the payload targets the svchost process.

“Attacker doesn't seem to be super sophisticated, but ‘good enough’ to cause a bad day for many orgs right now,” Capuano said.

AlienVault noted that a server involved in the exploitation of the Desktop Central flaw was also spotted attempting to exploit CVE-2019-19781, a recently patched vulnerability affecting Citrix products, and possibly CVE-2019-1653, a security hole affecting Cisco routers.

According to a researcher from Microsoft, a loader delivered in an attack exploiting the Desktop Central vulnerability has been primarily used by a China-linked threat actor known as Barium and Winnti. The expert highlighted that this does not necessarily mean Barium is behind the attacks as their tools often end up being used by other threat actors.

Desktop Central is designed to help organizations manage servers, laptops, desktop computers and mobile devices. The solution includes capabilities for installing patches, deploying software and operating systems, managing assets, obtaining software usage statistics, and remotely controlling devices. The vendor’s website lists over 1,000 customers and a Shodan search shows over 2,300 internet-exposed installations.

Following its disclosure, experts warned that the vulnerability can be highly useful to malicious actors, including for deploying malware and conducting reconnaissance.

Related: Code Execution Flaws Found in ManageEngine Products

Related: Serious Flaws Affect Several ManageEngine 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.