Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



VMware Patches ESXi Vulnerability That Earned Hacker $200,000

VMware on Thursday informed customers that it has released patches for a critical remote code execution vulnerability in ESXi that was disclosed recently at the Tianfu Cup hacking competition in China.

VMware on Thursday informed customers that it has released patches for a critical remote code execution vulnerability in ESXi that was disclosed recently at the Tianfu Cup hacking competition in China.

According to organizers of the Tianfu Cup, a member of the 360Vulcan team demonstrated a virtual machine escape and took control of the host operating system. The exploit only took 24 seconds to execute and earned the hacker $200,000, the highest single payout at the event.

VMware representatives were present at the competition so they were provided the details of the exploit immediately after the demonstration on November 17.

The company’s investigation revealed that the vulnerability exploited at the event affects ESXi versions 6.0, 6.5 and 6.7 running on any platform, and the Horizon cloud desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) platform version 8.x.

Patches have been released for ESXi, but VMware is still working on a fix for Horizon DaaS. The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2019-5544 and it has been assigned a CVSS score of 9.8, which makes it a critical issue.

VMware says the flaw is a heap overwrite issue related to the OpenSLP open source implementation of the Service Location Protocol (SLP), which is designed for locating resources on a network.

“A malicious actor with network access to port 427 on an ESXi host or on any Horizon DaaS management appliance may be able to overwrite the heap of the OpenSLP service resulting in remote code execution,” VMware said in its advisory.

This year it took VMware more than two weeks to address the vulnerability disclosed at the Tianfu Cup contest, but in 2018 it took the company less than a week to patch a Workstation vulnerability that earned a researcher $100,000 at the hacking event.

At this year’s Tianfu Cup, white hat hackers earned $545,000 for demonstrating exploits against products from VMware, Microsoft, Google, Apple, D-Link, and Adobe.

Related: VMware Patches Six Vulnerabilities in Various Products

Related: VMware Patches Critical Harbor Vulnerability

Related: VMware Patches Potentially Serious Pixel Shader Vulnerabilities

Written By

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.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join this webinar to learn best practices that organizations can use to improve both their resilience to new threats and their response times to incidents.


Join this live webinar as we explore the potential security threats that can arise when third parties are granted access to a sensitive data or systems.


Expert Insights

Related Content


Less than a week after announcing that it would suspended service indefinitely due to a conflict with an (at the time) unnamed security researcher...

Risk Management

The supply chain threat is directly linked to attack surface management, but the supply chain must be known and understood before it can be...


Apple has released updates for macOS, iOS and Safari and they all include a WebKit patch for a zero-day vulnerability tracked as CVE-2023-23529.

Application Security

Drupal released updates that resolve four vulnerabilities in Drupal core and three plugins.

Cloud Security

VMware vRealize Log Insight vulnerability allows an unauthenticated attacker to take full control of a target system.

IoT Security

Lexmark warns of a remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability impacting over 120 printer models, for which PoC code has been published.

Application Security

A CSRF vulnerability in the source control management (SCM) service Kudu could be exploited to achieve remote code execution in multiple Azure services.


GoAnywhere MFT users warned about a zero-day remote code injection exploit that can be targeted directly from the internet