Security Experts:

VMware Working on Patches for Serious vCenter Server Vulnerability

VMware announced on Wednesday that it’s working on patches for a potentially serious privilege escalation vulnerability affecting vCenter Server.

The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2021-22048 and it has been assigned an “important” severity rating, which is equivalent to “high severity” based on its CVSS score of 7.1.

“The vCenter Server contains a privilege escalation vulnerability in the IWA (Integrated Windows Authentication) authentication mechanism,” VMware said in its advisory. “A malicious actor with non-administrative access to vCenter Server may exploit this issue to elevate privileges to a higher privileged group.”

The vulnerability impacts vCenter Server 6.7 and 7.0, as well as Cloud Foundation 3.x and 4.x. Until patches become available, VMware has published a document with workaround instructions.

“Workaround for CVE-2021-22048 is to switch to AD over LDAPS authentication/Identity Provider Federation for AD FS (vSphere 7.0 only) from Integrated Windows Authentication (IWA),” the virtualization giant explained.

Yaron Zinar and Sagi Sheinfeld of CrowdStrike have been credited for reporting the issue to VMware.

There is no mention of the vulnerability being exploited for malicious purposes, but the lack of patches and the fact that the security hole was reported by CrowdStrike could suggest that it has been exploited.

SecurityWeek has reached out to CrowdStrike, but the cybersecurity firm has declined to share any additional information.

Threat actors exploiting vCenter Server vulnerabilities is not unheard of so it’s important that organizations deploy patches or workarounds as soon as possible. There are several thousand instances of vCenter Server that are exposed to the internet.

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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.