[NEWS] Cisco VPN Concentrator Groupname Enumeration Vulnerability
From: SecuriTeam (support_at_securiteam.com)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 20 Jun 2005 15:21:53 +0200
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Cisco VPN Concentrator Groupname Enumeration Vulnerability
NTA Monitor has discovered a groupname enumeration vulnerability in the
Cisco VPN 3000 series concentrator products while performing a VPN
security test for a customer.
The vulnerability affects remote access VPNs with groupname
authentication. Site-to-site VPN operation is not affected, nor is remote
access with certificate authentication. In practice, we find that most
concentrators are configured for remote access with groupname
authentication, so this bug will affect the majority of users.
The vulnerability allows an attacker to use a dictionary attack to
determine valid group names on the concentrator. Once a valid group name
is determined, the attacker can then use this to obtain a hash from the
concentrator, which can then be cracked offline to determine the group
Once an attacker has a valid groupname and group password, they can
potentially mount a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack against the XAUTH user
authentication mechanism. This allows the attacker to snoop on VPN
traffic, alter VPN traffic, or gain access to the network protected by the
VPN. This MitM attack works even if strong authentication such as SecurID
is used for user authentication.
The issue is believed to affect all models of Cisco VPN 3000 Concentrator:
3005, 3015, 3020, 3030, 3060 and 3080. We believe that all software
versions prior to 4.1.7.F are vulnerable.
The vulnerability allows an attacker to enumerate valid groupnames on a
Cisco VPN concentrator through either a dictionary attack, or a
brute-force attack. The issue exists because the concentrator responds to
valid groupnames differently to the way in which it responds to invalid
The exploit involves sending an IKE Aggressive Mode packet with the
groupname to be tested in the Identity (ID) payload. The ID Type is 11,
which corresponds to ID_KEY_ID. If the specified groupname is valid, the
concentrator will respond; if it is not valid, then the concentrator will
not respond. The ike-scan tool can be used to demonstrate this
The vulnerability is present in both normal IKE over UDP, and also Cisco
proprietary TCP-encapsulated IKE. The ike-scan tool can use either
transport type: for Cisco IKE in TCP, you need to specify the option
--tcp=2. When using TCP encapsulation, an invalid groupname causes the
concentrator to send a TCP RST packet, which causes ike-scan to return the
error message "recvfrom: Connection reset by peer".
The groupname guessing rate depends on the bandwidth between the
attacker's system and the concentrator. Because most of the group names
tried will be incorrect, and therefore the concentrator won't respond,
it's only the bandwidth from the attacker to the concentrator that
matters; the bandwidth from the concentrator back to the attacker is not
An IKE aggressive mode packet with a single transform, using
Diffie-Hellman group 2, and having an eight character groupname has an IKE
packet size of 256 bytes. Adding the eight byte UDP header and 20 byte IP
header gives a total size of 284 bytes or 2,272 bits. Assuming a link
speed of 2Mbits/sec, this gives a guessing rate of 2,000,000 / 2,272 = 880
guesses per second.
A guessing rate of 880 per second is 3,168,000 per hour or 76,032,000 per
day. This rate is sufficient to perform an extensive dictionary attack, or
a limited brute-force attack. The concentrator does not limit the
groupname guessing rate, nor does it blacklist hosts that perform
groupname enumeration: in tests, it was possible to get a successful
response to a valid groupname immediately after thousands of incorrect
Once a valid groupname is obtained, it is possible to use this groupname
to obtain a hash from the concentrator, and mount an offline
password-guessing attack against this hash to obtain the group password.
Because the password-guessing process is offline, it is fast (hundreds of
thousands of guesses per second), and will not cause the concentrator to
log any authentication failures.
A valid groupname and password allows the attacker to complete IKE Phase-1
and establish an ISAKMP SA to the concentrator. They can then mount a
Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack against the second-stage
user-authentication process, which is typically XAUTH.
The offline password guessing process and MitM attack against XAUTH are
detailed in the VPN flaws whitepaper at
The example below shows the two different concentrator responses: the
first is for the valid groupname "finance", and the second is for the
invalid groupname "administration". We see that the concentrator responds
to valid groupname, but not to the invalid one. Because of this difference
in behaviour, it is possible to determine whether a given groupname is
valid or not.
The ike-scan options used in this example are:
-A Specify IKE Aggressive Mode. The default for ike-scan is Main Mode.
--idtype=11 Specify ID Type 11 for the ID payload. This corresponds to
-M Multiline: Display each payload on a separate line, which makes the
output easier to read.
--auth=65001 Specify authentication method 65001, which corresponds to
--id=finance Specify the string to be used for the ID payload.
10.0.0.1 The IP address of the target VPN concentrator.
3.1. Response to valid groupname "finance":
$ ike-scan -A --idtype=11 -M --auth=65001 --id=finance 10.0.0.1
Starting ike-scan 1.7.2 with 1 hosts
10.0.0.1 Aggressive Mode Handshake returned
SA=(Enc=3DES Hash=MD5 Group=2:modp1024 Auth=XAUTH LifeType=Seconds
KeyExchange(128 bytes) Nonce(20 bytes) ID(Type=ID_IPV4_ADDR,
Value=10.0.0.1) Hash(16 bytes)
VID=12f5f28c457168a9702d9fe274cc0100 (Cisco Unity)
VID=afcad71368a1f1c96b8696fc77570100 (Dead Peer Detection)
VID=4048b7d56ebce88525e7de7f00d6c2d3c0000000 (IKE Fragmentation)
VID=1f07f70eaa6514d3b0fa96542a500400 (Cisco VPN Concentrator)
Ending ike-scan 1.7.2: 1 hosts scanned in 0.423 seconds (2.36 hosts/sec).
1 returned handshake; 0 returned notify
3.2. Response to invalid groupname "administration":
$ ike-scan -A --idtype=11 -M --auth=65001 --id=administration 10.0.0.1
Starting ike-scan 1.7.2 with 1 hosts
Ending ike-scan 1.7.2: 1 hosts scanned in 0.594 seconds (1.68 hosts/sec).
0 returned handshake;
0 returned notify
Upgrade to software version 4.1.7.F or later. Cisco customers with a valid
login may obtain the new software from the Cisco website. Cisco has stated
in the release notes that this software version is not vulnerable to the
issue, but NTA Monitor have not verified this claim.
Alternatively, use certificate authentication rather than group
authentication. This vulnerability does not apply to certificate
The vulnerability was first discovered on 8th July 2004, and was reported
to Cisco's security team (PSIRT) on 20th September 2004. Cisco were able
to reproduce the issue using the ike-scan tool, and bug ID CSCeg00323 was
opened on 11th October 2004. Software version 4.1.7.F, which claims to
have fixed the issue, was released on 19th May 2005.
Cisco Bug ID CSCeg00323 "vpn3k - inconsistent behavior on scanning".NTA
The information has been provided by <mailto:Roy.Hills@nta-monitor.com>
The original article can be found at:
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