Cisco warns of wireless security hole

Networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. is warning customers about a security hole in two products used to manage wireless LANs and e-business services in corporate data centres.

The company said on Wednesday that a user name and password coded into some versions of its Wireless LAN Solution Engine and Hosting Solution Engine software could give attackers complete control of the devices. Attackers could use the default logins to hide rogue wireless access points on wireless LANs, create and modify user privileges or change configuration settings, Cisco said. The vulnerability affects versions 2.0, 2.0.2 and 2.5 of the Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) and versions 1.7, 1.7.1, 1.7.2 and 1.7.3 of the Hosting Solution Engine (HSE). The San Jose company posted software patches on its Web site for both products.

The WLSE product manages Cisco Aironet wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructures, tying together different Aironet products, such as wireless access points, and making it easier for administrators to deploy, monitor and configure the devices on their WLAN. The WLSE also has security features that can spot unauthorized, or “rogue,” access points and applying wireless networking security polices to devices on the network, Cisco said.

The HSE is a network management hardware appliance that uses the Cisco 1140 platform. The product maps out and then monitors the performance and integrity e-business services in data centres that use Cisco products.

A default user name and password combination were written, or “hard coded,” into the software that runs on both devices and cannot be disabled. A malicious user who had the password would have complete control of the affected device, which could be used as a platform for further attacks, Cisco warned.

For the WLSE, having the default user name and password would give the malicious user the ability to cause system-wide outages by changing the radio frequency used to send data over the WLAN, or secretly install an unauthorized access point that could be used to gather confidential information from the WLAN.

For customers using the HSE, the default password could allow an attacker to redirect traffic from a Web site hosting e-business services, resulting in financial loss, Cisco said.

Cisco said it is not aware of any attacks that use the hard-coded login information, but advised customers to install the appropriate software patch.

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