[NEWS] Cisco IOS Misformed BGP Packet Causes Reload
From: SecuriTeam (support_at_securiteam.com)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 27 Jan 2005 15:10:19 +0200
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Cisco IOS Misformed BGP Packet Causes Reload
A Cisco device running IOS and enabled for the Border Gateway Protocol
(BGP) is vulnerable to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack from a malformed
BGP packet. Only devices with the command bgp log-neighbor-changes
configured are vulnerable. The BGP protocol is not enabled by default, and
must be configured in order to accept traffic from an explicitly defined
peer. Unless the malicious traffic appears to be sourced from a
configured, trusted peer, it would be difficult to inject a malformed
Cisco has made free software available to address this problem.
This vulnerability is present in any unfixed version of Cisco IOS, from
the beginning of support for the BGP protocol, including versions 9.x,
10.x, 11.x and 12.x. This issue affects all Cisco devices configured for
BGP routing and running the bgp log-neighbor-changes command, which is on
by default starting with releases 12.0(22)S, 12.0(11)ST, 12.1(10)E,
12.1(10) and later software.
A router which is running the BGP process will have both a line in the
configuration defining the AS number and the command bgp
log-neighbor-changes, which can be seen by issuing the command show
router bgp <AS number>
To determine the software running on a Cisco product, log in to the device
and issue the show version command to display the system banner. Cisco IOS
software will identify itself as "Internetwork Operating System Software"
or simply "IOS ." On the next line of output, the image name will be
displayed between parentheses, followed by "Version" and the IOS release
name. Other Cisco devices will not have the show version command or will
give different output.
The following example identifies a Cisco product running IOS release
12.0(3) with an installed image name of C2500-IS-L:
Cisco Internetwork Operating System Software IOS (TM)
2500 Software (C2500-IS-L), Version 12.0(3), RELEASE SOFTWARE
The release train label is "12.0."
The next example shows a product running IOS release 12.0(2a)T1 with an
image name of C2600-JS-MZ:
Cisco Internetwork Operating System Software IOS (tm)
C2600 Software (C2600-JS-MZ), Version 12.0(2a)T1, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)
Additional information about Cisco IOS release naming can be found at:
<http:// www.cisco.com/warp/public/620/1.html> http://
Products Confirmed Not Vulnerable
Products confirmed not to be vulnerable include devices that do not run
Cisco IOS, such as the Cisco Guard, products that cannot participate in
BGP or products that cannot be configured for BGP. No other Cisco products
are currently known to be affected by this vulnerability.
The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is a routing protocol defined by RFC
1771, and designed to manage IP routing in large networks. An affected
Cisco device running a vulnerable version of Cisco IOS software with the
BGP protocol enabled will reload if a malformed BGP packet is already
queued on the interface when a BGP neighbor change is logged. The device
is not vulnerable unless the command bgp log-neighbor-changes is
configured. Malformed packets may not come from malicious sources; a valid
peering device such as another BGP speaking router which produces the
specific malformed packet in error may trigger this behavior.
BGP runs over the Transport Control Protocol (TCP), a reliable transport
protocol which requires a valid three way handshake before any further
messages will be accepted. The Cisco IOS implementation of BGP requires
the explicit definition of a neighbor before a connection can be
established, and traffic must appear to come from that neighbor. These
implementation details make it very difficult to maliciously send a BGP
packet to a Cisco IOS device from an unauthorized source.
This bug may also be triggered by other means which are not considered
remotely exploitable. The use of the commands show ip bgp neighbors or
debug ip bgp updates can cause a router to reload if a router has
previously queued a malformed packet. If there are no queued malformed
packets, issuing these commands will have no harmful side effects.
A Cisco device receiving an invalid BGP packet will reset and may take
several minutes to become fully functional. This vulnerability may be
exploited repeatedly resulting in an extended DoS attack. This issue is
documented in bug ID CSCee67450 ( registered customers only) .
Successful exploitation of this vulnerability results in a reload of the
device. Repeated exploitation could result in a sustained DoS attack.
Software Versions and Fixes
A table listing all the vulnerable versions and their corresponding fixes
can be found at:
The effectiveness of any workaround is dependent on specific customer
situations such as product mix, network topology, traffic behavior, and
organizational mission. Due to the variety of affected products and
releases, customers should consult with their service provider or support
organization to ensure any applied workaround is the most appropriate for
use in the intended network before it is deployed.
* Remove the configuration command bgp log-neighbor-changes. This feature
is used to monitor BGP peer status and its removal may reduce network
monitoring capabilities. More information on this command is available
<http://www.cisco.com/univercd/cc/td/doc/product/software/ios123/123cgcr/iprrp_r/ip2_a1g.htm#wp1040601> Cisco IOS IP Routing Protocol Commands
The use of networking best practices techniques can greatly reduce the
probability of a network infrastructure attack. Best practices that may
reduce risk in this case include:
Under normal circumstances, due to inherent security factors in the TCP
protocol, such as sequence number checks, it is difficult, but possible to
forge an appropriate packet to exploit this problem. Configuring your
Cisco IOS device for BGP MD5 authentication greatly increases the work
necessary to forge a valid packet from a remote peer. This will not
protect your peering session if a valid BGP peer generates an invalid
This can be configured as shown in the following example:
router(config)# router bgp
router(config-router)# neighbor <IP_address> password
It is necessary to configure the same shared MD5 secret on both peers and
at the same time. Failure to do so will break the existing BGP session and
the new session will not get established until the exact same secret is
configured on both devices. For a detailed discussion on how to configure
BGP, refer to the following document:
Once the secret is configured, it is prudent to change it periodically.
The exact period must fit within your company security policy but it
should not be longer than a few months. When changing the secret, again it
must be done at the same time on both devices. Failure to do so will break
your existing BGP session. The exception is if your Cisco IOS software
release contains the integrated CSCdx23494 ( registered customers only)
fix on both sides of the connection. With this fix, the BGP session will
not be terminated when the MD5 secret is changed only on one side. The BGP
updates, however, will not be processed until either the same secret is
configured on both devices or the secret is removed from both devices.
Infrastructure Access Control Lists (iACLs)
Although it is often difficult to block traffic transiting your network,
it is possible to identify traffic that should never be allowed to target
your infrastructure devices and block that traffic at the border of your
network. Infrastructure ACLs are considered a network security best
practice and should be considered as a long-term addition to good network
security as well as providing some added protection for this specific
vulnerability. The white paper entitled "Protecting Your Core:
Infrastructure Protection Access Control Lists" presents guidelines and
recommended deployment techniques for infrastructure protection ACLs:
The information has been provided by <mailto:email@example.com> Cisco
Systems Product Security Incident Response Team.
The original article can be found at:
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