Security Experts:

VMware Reissues Patch for vCenter RCE Flaw

A security update released by VMware last year to address a serious vulnerability in vCenter Server turned out to be incomplete, which is why the company has issued another patch to properly fix the problem.

VMware published an advisory in October 2015 to inform customers of software updates designed to address critical security flaws affecting vCenter and ESXi.

One of the vulnerabilities the company attempted to patch at the time, CVE-2015-2342, was related to a remotely accessible JMX RMI service that was not securely configured. The weakness allows a remote, unauthenticated attacker who can connect to the service to execute arbitrary code on affected vCenter Server installations, and allows a local attacker to elevate privileges.

The security hole, reported by Doug Mcleod of 7 Elements and an anonymous researcher via the Zero Day Initiative, was supposed to be fixed in VCenter Server for Windows with the release of versions 5.0 U3e, 5.1 U3b and 5.5 U3. VMware later learned that the updates did not address the issue, so it has now released an additional patch, KB2144428, to properly resolve the vulnerability.

“In case the Windows Firewall is enabled on the system that has vCenter Server Windows installed, remote exploitation of CVE-2015-2342 is not possible. Even if the Windows Firewall is enabled, users are advised to install the additional patch in order to remove the local privilege elevation,” VMware said in an updated advisory.

In 2015, VMware released nine security advisories to describe two dozen vulnerabilities. This year, the company so far released only one set of updates to address an important guest privilege escalation vulnerability affecting ESXi, Fusion, Player and Workstation.

It’s worth noting that VMware Workstation has been added this year to the list of software targeted by white hat hackers at the Pwn2Own 2016 competition, scheduled to take place on March 16-17 alongside the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, Canada. Participants who manage to achieve a VM escape will receive a $75,000 bonus.

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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.