Vulnerabilities > CVE-2022-20960 - Improper Certificate Validation vulnerability in Cisco Email Security Appliance

047910
CVSS 7.5 - HIGH
Attack vector
NETWORK
Attack complexity
LOW
Privileges required
NONE
Confidentiality impact
NONE
Integrity impact
NONE
Availability impact
HIGH
network
low complexity
cisco
CWE-295

Summary

A vulnerability in Cisco AsyncOS Software for Cisco Email Security Appliance (ESA) could allow an unauthenticated remote attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on an affected device. This vulnerability is due to improper handling of certain TLS connections that are processed by an affected device. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by establishing a large number of concurrent TLS connections to an affected device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to cause the device to drop new TLS email messages that come from the associated email servers. Exploitation of this vulnerability does not cause the affected device to unexpectedly reload. The device will recover autonomously within a few hours of when the attack is halted or mitigated.

Vulnerable Configurations

Part Description Count
Application
Cisco
95

Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)

Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification (CAPEC)

  • Creating a Rogue Certificate Authority Certificate
    An attacker exploits a weakness in the MD5 hash algorithm (weak collision resistance) to generate a certificate signing request (CSR) that contains collision blocks in the "to be signed" part. The attacker specially crafts two different, but valid X.509 certificates that when hashed with the MD5 algorithm would yield the same value. The attacker then sends the CSR for one of the certificates to the Certification Authority which uses the MD5 hashing algorithm. That request is completely valid and the Certificate Authority issues an X.509 certificate to the attacker which is signed with its private key. An attacker then takes that signed blob and inserts it into another X.509 certificate that the attacker generated. Due to the MD5 collision, both certificates, though different, hash to the same value and so the signed blob works just as well in the second certificate. The net effect is that the attackers' second X.509 certificate, which the Certification Authority has never seen, is now signed and validated by that Certification Authority. To make the attack more interesting, the second certificate could be not just a regular certificate, but rather itself a signing certificate. Thus the attacker is able to start their own Certification Authority that is anchored in its root of trust in the legitimate Certification Authority that has signed the attackers' first X.509 certificate. If the original Certificate Authority was accepted by default by browsers, so will now the Certificate Authority set up by the attacker and of course any certificates that it signs. So the attacker is now able to generate any SSL certificates to impersonate any web server, and the user's browser will not issue any warning to the victim. This can be used to compromise HTTPS communications and other types of systems where PKI and X.509 certificates may be used (e.g., VPN, IPSec) .