Cisco Security Advisory: Multiple Vulnerabilities in Cisco Secure Desktop

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Cisco Security Advisory: Multiple Vulnerabilities in Cisco Secure Desktop

Advisory ID: cisco-sa-20061108-csd

Revision 1.0

For Public Release 2006 November 08 1600 UTC (GMT)

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Cisco Secure Desktop (CSD) software is affected by three
vulnerabilities that may:

* Cause information produced and accessed during an Internet browsing
session to be left behind on a computer after an SSL VPN session
* Allow users to evade the system policy that prevents them from
leaving the Secure Desktop while a VPN connection is active.
* Allow local users to elevate their privileges.

Cisco has made free software available to address these vulnerabilities
for affected customers. There are workarounds available to mitigate the
effects of some of these vulnerabilities.

This advisory is posted at

Affected Products

Vulnerable Products

The vulnerabilities described in this document exist in versions and earlier of Cisco Secure Desktop.

Products Confirmed Not Vulnerable

Versions and later of the Cisco Secure Desktop are not
affected by these vulnerabilities.

No other Cisco products are currently known to be affected by these


The Cisco Secure Desktop (CSD) seeks to minimize data from being left
behind after an SSL VPN session terminates. In particular, CSD works to
reduce, via encryption, the risk that cookies, browser history,
temporary files, and downloaded content remain on a system after a
remote user logs out or an SSL VPN session times out.

CSD is affected by the following vulnerabilities:

Information Leakage via Spawned Browser

This vulnerability occurs when the Internet browser that is
automatically spawned to display a home page after an SSL VPN session
is established uses a directory outside of the vault maintained by CSD
to store its session information, i.e. browser cache (also known as
"temporary Internet files"), history, cookies, etc. This also allows
users to save files downloaded during this Internet browsing session to
outside of the CSD vault, which would result in unencrypted files
remaining in the system after the SSL VPN connection terminates.

Please note that this vulnerability only occurs when the Cisco SSL VPN
Client is configured to spawn a home page after a successful
connection. Spawning a home page after a successful connection is not
enabled by default.

This vulnerability is documented by Cisco Bug ID CSCsg05935 - SVC's
spawned browser saves to nonsecure desktop.

System Policy Evasion

This vulnerability allows users to switch between the Secure Desktop
and the Local (nonsecure) Desktop when using certain applications that
attempt to switch to the default desktop. This can occur even when the
system administrator has configured CSD to prevent switching between
the Secure Desktop and the Local Desktop.

This vulnerability is documented by Cisco Bug ID CSCsg11636 - Applications
that switch to the default desktop cause CSD to minimize.

Local Privilege Escalation

The default permissions of the directory where CSD is installed, and
its parent directory, allow any user to modify the contents of a CSD
installation, including renaming, deleting and overwriting files.
Unprivileged users can make use of this to elevate their privilege and
obtain LocalSystem-equivalent privileges by replacing certain CSD
executables that are run as system services and with LocalSystem

CSD is installed by default into the directory
%SystemDrive%\Program Files\Cisco Systems\Secure Desktop\.

Note: %SystemDrive% is a Microsoft Windows environment variable that
holds the drive that Windows was installed to. Normally, Windows is
installed in the first hard disk and therefore %SystemDrive% is usually C:.

Please note that there are other Cisco products that install their
files in a directory under %SystemDrive%\Program Files\Cisco Systems\.
When these products are installed they normally inherit the permissions
from the parent directory (%SystemDrive%\Program Files\Cisco Systems\).
Therefore, as a side effect of this vulnerability in CSD, other
products may be affected if they are installed after a vulnerable
version of CSD is installed.

This vulnerability is documented by Cisco Bug ID CSCsg29650 - Insecure
file and directory permissions in CSD installation.

For information about local system level privileges, please refer to:

* LocalSystem Account


The "Information Leakage via Spawned Browser" vulnerability may cause
information produced and accessed during an Internet browsing session
to be left behind on a computer after an SSL VPN session terminates and
after CSD has attempted to clean up all traces of the data.

The "System Policy Evasion" vulnerability may allow users to access the
nonsecure desktop while the VPN connection is active, which is
something that the system administrator may have chosen to prevent via
a configuration option.

Successful exploitation of the "Local Privilege Escalation"
vulnerability may result in a normal user or attacker gaining full
control of the system, evading any controls put in place by the Windows
system administrator.

Software Version and Fixes

The vulnerabilities described in this document are fixed in version of the Cisco Secure Desktop software.

Cisco Secure Desktop software can be downloaded from the following


Information Leakage via Spawned Browser

A workaround for this vulnerability is to disable the spawning of a
home page after a successful VPN connection. This setting is disabled
by default.

The setting that disables spawning of a home page after a successful
VPN connection is called "Restrict application usage to the web browser
only", which is disabled by default. This setting is found in the
"Secure Desktop Settings" page. For more information about this
setting, please visit the following URL:

System Policy Evasion

There are no workarounds for this vulnerability.

Local Privilege Escalation

A workaround for this vulnerability is to change the permissions of the
directory where CSD is installed, and all files under it, so only users
with administrative privileges can modify the contents of the CSD
installation. CSD is installed by default into the directory
%SystemDrive%\Program Files\Cisco Systems\Secure Desktop\.

The actual permissions that need to be set can be inherited from the
directory %SystemDrive%\Program Files\, which by default, have secure

Changing directory permissions can be accomplished using the Windows
Explorer or using the CACLS.EXE command-line utility distributed with
modern versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

As mentioned in the Details section, if another Cisco product that
installs its files to its own directory under
%SystemDrive%\Program Files\Cisco Systems\ is installed after a
vulnerable version of CSD is installed, that other product may become
affected as a side effect of the CSD vulnerability. Therefore, it is
recommended to also fix permissions of directory and files of other
Cisco products that have been installed after the installation of a
vulnerable CSD version.

Please note that uninstalling CSD will remove the
%SystemDrive%\Program Files\Cisco Systems\Secure Desktop\ directory,
but will not remove nor change the permissions of the parent directory,
i.e. %SystemDrive%\ Program Files\Cisco Systems\.

Obtaining Fixed Software

Cisco will make free software available to address this vulnerability
for affected customers. Prior to deploying software, customers should
consult their maintenance provider or check the software for feature
set compatibility and known issues specific to their environment.

Customers may only install and expect support for the feature sets they
have purchased. By installing, downloading, accessing or otherwise
using such software upgrades, customers agree to be bound by the terms
of Cisco's software license terms found at, or as otherwise
set forth at Downloads at

Do not contact either "psirt@xxxxxxxxx" or "security-alert@xxxxxxxxx"
for software upgrades.

Customers with Service Contracts

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

Customers using Third Party Support Organizations

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 guidance and assistance with the
appropriate course of action in regards to this advisory.

Customers without Service Contracts

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). 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: tac@xxxxxxxxx

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.

Refer to
for additional TAC contact information, including special localized
telephone numbers and instructions and e-mail addresses for use in
various languages.

Exploitation and Public Announcements

The Cisco PSIRT is not aware of any public announcements or malicious
use of the vulnerabilities and limitations described in this advisory.

The "Information Leakage Via Spawned Browser" and the "System Policy
Evasion" vulnerabilities were reported to Cisco by customers.

The "Local Privilege Escalation" vulnerability was reported to Cisco by

Cisco would like to thank them for working with us towards coordinated
disclosure of these vulnerabilities.

Status of this Notice: FINAL


A stand-alone copy or Paraphrase of the text of this document that
omits the distribution URL in the following section is an uncontrolled
copy, and may lack important information or contain factual errors.


This advisory is posted on Cisco's worldwide website at:

In addition to worldwide web posting, a text version of this notice is
clear-signed with the Cisco PSIRT PGP key and is posted to the
following e-mail and Usenet news recipients.

* cust-security-announce@xxxxxxxxx
* first-teams@xxxxxxxxx
* bugtraq@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
* vulnwatch@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
* cisco@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
* cisco-nsp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
* full-disclosure@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Future updates of this advisory, if any, will be placed on Cisco's
worldwide website, but may or may not be actively announced on mailing
lists or newsgroups. Users concerned about this problem are encouraged
to check the above URL for any updates.

Revision History

| Revision | | Initial |
| 1.0 | 2006-November-08 | public |
| | | release. |

Cisco Security Procedures

Complete information on reporting security vulnerabilities in Cisco
products, obtaining assistance with security incidents, and registering
to receive security information from Cisco, is available on Cisco's
worldwide website at
This includes instructions for press inquiries regarding Cisco security
notices. All Cisco security advisories are available at

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All contents are Copyright 1992-2006 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights
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Updated: Nov 08, 2006 Document ID: 72020

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Version: GnuPG v1.4.2.2 (GNU/Linux)


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