[NEWS] Cisco Content Service Switch 11000 Series DNS Negative Cache of Information Denial-of-Service Vulnerability
From: SecuriTeam (support_at_securiteam.com)
To: email@example.com Date: 5 May 2003 18:31:18 +0200
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Cisco Content Service Switch 11000 Series DNS Negative Cache of
Information Denial-of-Service Vulnerability
The Cisco Content Service Switch (CSS) 11000 and 11500 series switches
respond to certain Domain Name Service (DNS) name server record requests
with an error code and no Start of Authority (SOA) records, which can be
negatively cached by some DNS name servers resulting in a potential
denial-of-service attack for a particular domain name hosted by a CSS. To
be affected by this vulnerability, CSS devices must be configured for
Global Server Load Balancing. The CERT/CC issued a vulnerability note on
this issue (VU#714121). Cisco is providing repaired software, and
customers are urged to upgrade to repaired code.
This vulnerability in CSS is documented as Cisco Bug IDs CSCdz62499 and
The CSS 11000 and 11500 series switches (formerly known as Arrowpoint)
consist of the CSS 11050, CSS 11150, CSS 11800 11501, 11503, and 11506
hardware platforms. They run the Cisco WebNS software.
CSS 11000 and 11500 series switches running any WebNS software revision
are affected by this vulnerability only if they are configured for Global
Server Load Balancing (also known as DNS Load Balancing).
To determine if your CSS equipment is configured for Global Server Load
Balancing, please check the configuration for the DNS-server command. If
this command is not present, the configuration is not vulnerable to this
No other Cisco product is currently known to be affected by this
Commonly, the name service in use by the Internet, DNS, uses various
record types for queries between DNS servers and clients. The common
record types are Address records (A-records), Name Server records (NS
records), Mail Exchange (MX records), Start of Authority records (SOA
records), and Canonical Name records (CNAME records). Each record or query
type has various rules and formats associated with it, including details
about what may be cached, what may be trusted by other clients, etc.
Clients usually send queries to a local server, and that local server may
send further queries to other servers on behalf of that client in order to
formulate a response for the client. When the local server receives the
responses, it will cache the information for future use and will respond
to the client.
The CSS 11000 and 11500 series switches have the ability to act as an
authoritative DNS name server and will only respond to DNS A-record
requests. If a CSS configured for DNS via the Global Server Load Balancing
feature receives a DNS request or query for an unsupported record type,
the CSS will respond with rcode 4 "not implemented" or rcode 3 "NXDOMAIN,"
depending on the version of WebNS. When an NXDOMAIN response code is
received, the querying server will typically stop attempting to resolve
any other record type for that name. For example, an NXDOMAIN response to
the AAAA query may stop the server from sending an A query, though there
may indeed be an A-record in existence. Some resolvers that receive an
NXDOMAIN response and support negative caching will not query for
A-records for the same name until the negatively cached error response has
expired, which can take an extended period of time.
When the DNS query received is for a legitimate host name but an
unsupported record type, these negative responses may be cached by various
proxies or caching nameservers and will lead to apparent temporary service
outages when other clients query the caching nameserver or proxy for the
legitimate host name. Though network services are physically unaffected,
end users are dependent upon name resolution, and the lack of correct DNS
information can result in effective service outages.
Cisco Bug ID CSCdz62499 was the first fix, which changed the response from
rcode 3 to rcode 4. This result code is also negatively cached, so the
complete fix has been correctly addressed with Cisco Bug ID CSCea36989.
The CSS will now return an RFC 2308-compliant NODATA type 3 response,
which is an authoritative answer with rcode=NOERROR, answer=0, and no SOA.
This response should cause the specific client to query for another
A-record instead of continuing to query for the unsupported record type or
using the negatively cached error message or NXDOMAIN answer.
Exploitation of this vulnerability would result in a sporadic or partial
denial of service, affecting only the users of the DNS services that cache
the negative response information in response to an unsupported query type
from that same user base. The administrators of the affected CSS and
associated resources may not be aware of any exploitation, since there are
no locally apparent symptoms. Only certain user groups would be affected,
which may cause significant difficulty in troubleshooting customer reports
Software Versions and Fixes:
The following table summarizes the CSS software releases affected by the
defect described in this notice and provides scheduled dates on which the
earliest corresponding fixed releases will be available. Dates are
tentative and subject to change.
When selecting a release, keep in mind the following definitions.
A maintenance release is the most heavily tested and highly recommended
An interim release has much less testing than a maintenance release and
should be selected only if no other suitable release fixes the defect.
In all cases, customers should exercise caution to be certain the devices
to be upgraded contain sufficient memory and that current hardware and
software configurations will continue to be supported properly by the new
A table containing a detailed list of affected products and their
corresponding patch can be found at:
Obtaining Fixed Software:
Cisco is offering free software upgrades to remedy this vulnerability for
all affected customers. Customers may only install and expect support for
the feature sets they have purchased.
Customers with contracts should obtain upgraded software through their
regular update channels. For most customers, this means that upgrades
should be obtained through the Software Center on Cisco's worldwide
website at http://www.cisco.com.
Customers whose Cisco products are provided or maintained through prior or
existing agreement with third-party support organizations such as Cisco
Partners, authorized resellers, or service providers should contact that
support organization for assistance with the upgrade, which should be free
Customers who purchase direct from Cisco but who do not hold a Cisco
service contract and customers who purchase through third-party vendors
but are unsuccessful at obtaining fixed software through their point of
sale should get their upgrades by contacting the Cisco Technical
Assistance Center (TAC). In those cases, customers may only upgrade to a
later version of the same release as indicated by the applicable row in
the Software Versions and Fixes table. TAC contacts are as follows:
* +1 800 553 2447 (toll free from within North America)
* +1 408 526 7209 (toll call from anywhere in the world)
* e-mail: email@example.com
http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/687/Directory/DirTAC.shtml for additional
TAC contact information, including special localized telephone numbers and
instructions and e-mail addresses for use in various languages.
Please have your product serial number available and give the URL of this
notice as evidence of your entitlement to a free upgrade. Free upgrades
for non-contract customers must be requested through the TAC.
Please do not contact either "firstname.lastname@example.org" or
"email@example.com" for software upgrades.
The workaround for this issue is to disable Global Server Load Balancing
and to configure DNS records for the affected servers and domains on a
separate compliant DNS server until an upgrade to repaired versions can be
The information has been provided by <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> Cisco
Systems Product Security Incident Response Team.
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