Cisco Rectifies Hardcoded Credentials Vulnerability in its Critical Response Tool

  • 06-10-2023 |
  • Vivienne Lockhart

Cisco's Emergency Responder (CER), the firm's critical response tool designed to address crises promptly, had an embedded security vulnerability present in hardcoded credentials. This flaw potentially granted cybercriminals who were privy to this information unfettered access to these systems.

The tech giant acknowledged the issue and swiftly dispatched a patch to rectify the weakness.

Assigned the identifier CVE-2023-20101, this security weakness carries a high-risk severity score of 9.8. According to Cisco, the potential for exploitation lies in a cyberattacker using this account to intrude into a vulnerable system. With a successful attack, the bad actor could log in to the compromised system, manipulating it with power equivalent to the root user.

The issue of hardcoded login details isn't new in the world of cybersecurity. In many cases, such fixed credentials are enabled by developers as a shortcut for login during developmental stages. The challenge arises when these hardcoded details are inadvertently retained in the final product shipped to users.

The identified flaw is embedded in the Cisco Emergency Responder version 12.5(1)SU4. Users of this version are advised to upgrade their software to the 12.5(1)SU5 version for enhanced security. According to Cisco, no other releases exhibit this vulnerability.

The silver lining here is Cisco's strong belief that no breach of this vulnerability has been recorded yet. The problem was unearthed during the company's in-house security assessment, with no evidence indicating any external party had previously exploited the flaw.

However, the disclosure of the issue is likely to pique the interest of numerous malicious threat groups intending to manipulate the flaw. This underscores the relevance of keeping software updated, one of the foremost cybersecurity measures in the current digital age. Surprisingly, most contemporary cyberattacks are not instigated via zero-day vulnerabilities (flaws that developers had no time to fix), but rather through lingering vulnerabilities that users failed to patch in time.

In addition to timely firmware updates, users are advised to deploy endpoint security solutions along with robust firewalls for optimum protection.