Cisco's Smart Install (SMI) protocol is leaving network switches exposed on the public Internet at a rate that has remained largely unchanged since researchers began digging for SMI flaws when it was first released in 2010, a new study shows.
SMI provides configuration and image management for Cisco switches and uses a combination of DHCP, TFTP, and a proprietary TCP protocol to help businesses deploy and run them.
Researchers at Rapid7 recently reassessed the public Internet for SMI exposure. Their goal was to highlight changes since the initial publication of SMI research and learn more about why SMI was being exposed insecurely.
Since its debut, several SMI flaws have been discovered and disclosed including CVE-2011-3271, which led to remote code execution, and denial of service issues CVE-2012-0385, CVE-2013-1146, CVE-2016-1349, and CVE-2016-6385.
In 2016, researchers have found a number of new SMI security issues. Experts from Tenable, Trustwave SpiderLabs, and Digital Security presented at the 2016 Zeronights security conference to disclose several problems with SMI that left the entire switch open for compromise if a user left SMI exposed and unpatched, neglecting Cisco's recommendations for securing it.
Each SMI-related security advisory published by Cisco has recommended disabling SMI unless it's needed. The company has offered coverage for SMI abuse, updated the documentation to secure SMI, and released a scanning tool so customers can know if they're affected by SMI problems. It also released SMI-related hardening fixes.
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