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300-710 outline - Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower Updated: 2023

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Exam Code: 300-710 Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower outline November 2023 by team

300-710 Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower

Exam Detail:
The 300-710 Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower (SNCF) test is part of the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Security certification track. It validates the knowledge and skills of candidates in implementing and managing Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) devices for network security. Here are the test details for the SNCF certification:

- Number of Questions: The exact number of questions may vary, but the test typically consists of multiple-choice and simulation-based questions.

- Time Limit: The time allotted to complete the test is 90 minutes.

Course Outline:
The course outline for the Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower certification covers various key areas related to implementing and managing Cisco Firepower NGFW devices. The courses typically included in the course outline are as follows:

1. Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) Overview:
- Understanding the Cisco Firepower Threat Defense solution.
- Exploring the features and capabilities of Cisco Firepower devices.
- Architecture and deployment options for Cisco Firepower NGFW.

2. Implementing Firepower Management Center (FMC):
- Configuring and managing Cisco Firepower Management Center.
- Device registration and policy deployment.
- Monitoring and reporting with Firepower Management Center.

3. Deploying Firepower NGFW Devices:
- Configuring Firepower NGFW interfaces and routing.
- Implementing access control policies.
- Configuring network address translation (NAT) and VPN.

4. Implementing Advanced Threat Detection and Prevention:
- Configuring file and malware detection.
- Integration with Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP).
- Implementing intrusion prevention system (IPS) policies.

5. Configuring and Troubleshooting Site-to-Site VPN:
- Implementing site-to-site VPN using Cisco Firepower devices.
- Troubleshooting VPN connectivity and configuration issues.
- Integrating VPN with other Firepower features.

Exam Objectives:
The objectives of the Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower (SNCF) test are as follows:

- Assessing candidates' understanding of Cisco Firepower Threat Defense solution and its components.
- Evaluating candidates' proficiency in configuring and managing Cisco Firepower Management Center.
- Testing candidates' knowledge of implementing access control policies, advanced threat detection, and VPN on Cisco Firepower devices.

Exam Syllabus:
The specific test syllabus for the Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower (SNCF) certification may cover the following topics:

1. Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) Overview:
- Firepower Threat Defense features and capabilities.
- Firepower Management Center and device management.

2. Firepower Management Center (FMC):
- Firepower Management Center setup and configuration.
- Device registration and policy deployment.
- Monitoring and reporting.

3. Firepower NGFW Device Configuration:
- Firepower NGFW interfaces and routing configuration.
- Access control policies implementation.
- Network address translation (NAT) and VPN configuration.

4. Advanced Threat Detection and Prevention:
- File and malware detection configuration.
- Integration with Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP).
- Intrusion prevention system (IPS) policies implementation.

5. Site-to-Site VPN Configuration and Troubleshooting:
- Site-to-site VPN configuration using Firepower devices.
- Troubleshooting VPN connectivity and configuration issues.
- VPN integration with other Firepower features.
Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower
Cisco Firepower outline

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Securing Networks with Cisco Firepower
Question: 273
When creating a report template, how can the results be limited to show only the activity of a specific subnet?
A. Create a custom search in Firepower Management Center and select it in each section of the report.
B. Add an Input Parameter in the Advanced Settings of the report, and set the type to Network/I
D. Add a Table View section to the report with the Search field defined as the network in CIDR format.
E. Select IP Address as the X-Axis in each section of the report.
Answer: B
Question: 274
Which two conditions are necessary for high availability to function between two Cisco FTD devices? (Choose two.)
A. The units must be the same version
B. Both devices can be part of a different group that must be in the same domain when configured within the FM
D. The units must be different models if they are part of the same series.
E. The units must be configured only for firewall routed mode.
F. The units must be the same model.
Answer: AE
Question: 275
Which policy rule is included in the deployment of a local DMZ during the initial deployment of a Cisco NGFW through the Cisco FMC GUI?
A. a default DMZ policy for which only a user can change the IP addresses.
B. deny ip any
C. no policy rule is included
D. permit ip any
Answer: C
Question: 276
Which two OSPF routing features are configured in Cisco FMC and propagated to Cisco FTD? (Choose two.)
A. OSPFv2 with IPv6 capabilities
B. virtual links
C. SHA authentication to OSPF packets
D. area boundary router type 1 LSA filtering
E. MD5 authentication to OSPF packets
Answer: BD
Question: 277
What is the difference between inline and inline tap on Cisco Firepower?
A. Inline tap mode can send a copy of the traffic to another device.
B. Inline tap mode does full packet capture.
C. Inline mode cannot do SSL decryption.
D. Inline mode can drop malicious traffic.
Answer: D
Question: 278
With Cisco Firepower Threat Defense software, which interface mode must be configured to passively receive traffic that passes through the appliance?
A. inline set
B. passive
C. routed
D. inline tap
Answer: B
Question: 279
Which two deployment types support high availability? (Choose two.)
A. transparent
B. routed
C. clustered
D. intra-chassis multi-instance
E. virtual appliance in public cloud
Answer: AB
Question: 280
Which two actions can be used in an access control policy rule? (Choose two.)
A. Block with Reset
B. Monitor
C. Analyze
D. Discover
E. Block ALL
Answer: AB
Question: 281
Which two statements about bridge-group interfaces in Cisco FTD are true? (Choose two.)
A. The BVI IP address must be in a separate subnet from the connected network.
B. Bridge groups are supported in both transparent and routed firewall modes.
C. Bridge groups are supported only in transparent firewall mode.
D. Bidirectional Forwarding Detection echo packets are allowed through the FTD when using bridge-group members.
E. Each directly connected network must be on the same subnet.
Answer: CD
Question: 282
Which two routing options are valid with Cisco Firepower Threat Defense? (Choose two.)
A. BGPv6
B. ECMP with up to three equal cost paths across multiple interfaces
C. ECMP with up to three equal cost paths across a single interface
D. BGPv4 in transparent firewall mode
E. BGPv4 with nonstop forwarding
Answer: AC
Question: 283
Which command is run on an FTD unit to associate the unit to an FMC manager that is at IP address, and that has the registration key Cisco123?
A. configure manager local Cisco123
B. configure manager add Cisco123
C. configure manager local Cisco123
D. configure manager add Cisco123
Answer: D
Question: 284
On the advanced tab under inline set properties, which allows interfaces to emulate a passive interface?
A. transparent inline mode
B. TAP mode
C. strict TCP enforcement
D. propagate link state
Answer: D
Question: 285
Which two dynamic routing protocols are supported in Firepower Threat Defense without using FlexConfig? (Choose two.)
C. static routing
Answer: CE
Reference: fptd-fdm-routing.html
Question: 286
Which protocol establishes network redundancy in a switched Firepower device deployment?
Answer: A
Question: 287
What is a result of enabling Cisco FTD clustering?
A. For the dynamic routing feature, if the master unit fails, the newly elected master unit maintains all existing connections.
B. Integrated Routing and Bridging is supported on the master unit.
C. Site-to-site VPN functionality is limited to the master unit, and all VPN connections are dropped if the master unit fails.
D. All Firepower appliances can support Cisco FTD clustering.
Answer: C
Question: 288
Which interface type allows packets to be dropped?
A. passive
B. inline
Answer: B
Question: 289
What is the disadvantage of setting up a site-to-site VPN in a clustered-units environment?
A. VPN connections can be re-established only if the failed master unit recovers.
B. Smart License is required to maintain VPN connections simultaneously across all cluster units.
C. VPN connections must be re-established when a new master unit is elected.
D. Only established VPN connections are maintained when a new master unit is elected.
Answer: C
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Cisco Firepower outline - BingNews Search results Cisco Firepower outline - BingNews Cisco patches serious flaws in Firepower and Identity Services Engine

The high-risk vulnerabilities could allow command injection or lead to a denial-of-service condition.

Cisco released several patches for high and critical vulnerabilities affecting several products like its Firepower network security devices, Identity Services Engine (ISE)) network access control platform, and Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA). The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert urging administrators to deploy the available patches because “a cyber threat actor could exploit some of these vulnerabilities to take control of an affected system.”

The exploitation of vulnerabilities in network security appliances has become a common occurrence in recent years because these devices are sometimes by nature connected to the internet because they are perimeter devices and provide attackers with a privileged position on the network from where they can move laterally.

Most serious Cisco flaw allows command injection

The most serious flaw is in the Management Center Software of Cisco Firepower and allows an authenticated attacker to send unauthorized configuration commands to Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) devices that are managed through the software. The attacker can authenticate on the web interface and exploit the vulnerability by sending a specially crafted HTTP request to the target device. While Cisco doesn’t specify in its advisory what the attacker can achieve through these configuration commands, it rated the flaw as critical.

The flaw only exists in the Management Center Software, so standalone FTD devices that are managed through the Cisco Firepower Device Manager (FDM) are not affected. The Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) software, which is the predecessor to Cisco Firepower is not affected, either.

Two other command injection vulnerabilities were also patched in the Cisco Firepower Management Center, but these can lead to command execution on the underlying operating system, not the managed devices. Exploiting these flaws requires the attacker to have valid credentials too, but they don’t need to be for the administrator account. The two vulnerabilities are rated with high severity.

A fourth code injection flaw was found and patched in both the Cisco Firepower Management Center software and the Firepower Threat Defense software. The issue is in an inter-device communication mechanism and allows an authenticated attacker to execute commands on the device as root. The limitation is that the attacker needs to have administrator role on an FTD device to target the Management Center device, or to have administrator privileges on the Management Center to execute root commands on an associated FTD device.

Two high-severity command injection issues were also patched in the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) and could allow an authenticated local attacker to execute commands as root on the underlying operating system. ISE also received patches for two flaws that can allow attackers to upload arbitrary files to the device or disable the Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) processing.

Other Cisco vulnerabilities could lead to denial of service

Additional high-risk vulnerabilities that could lead to denial-of-service (DoS) conditions were fixed in the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance software, the Firepower Threat Defense software, the Firepower Management Center software, the software in Cisco Firepower 2100 Series firewalls. These were located in the following functionalities: the ICMPv6 message processing, the remote access VPN, firewall inspection rules, the Log API, and ICMPv6 inspection with Snort 2 detection.

Mon, 06 Nov 2023 12:09:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Properly set a Cisco router’s clock and time zone

Does setting the correct time on a router really matter? Actually, it does. In this edition of Cisco Routers and Switches, David Davis reviews the benefits of setting the correct time on your router, and he walks you through the three-step process to configure the correct time.

Last year, I wrote an article about why Cisco devices should
use Network Time Protocol (NTP) for their time synchronization needs, in which
I explained how to configure NTP on your Cisco devices (“Synchronize
a Cisco router’s clock with Network Time Protocol (NTP)”
). Using NTP
is the ideal method for medium to large-scale networks.

However, if you have only a handful of routers, manually
setting the clock may be the easiest way to properly configure your devices’
times. Let’s walk through the process.

If a Cisco router boots up before you’ve configured a local
time or network time source, it will display the date as March 1, 1993. Here’s
an example:

Router> show clock
*00:01:10.415 UTC Mon Mar 1 1993

This date’s appearance on log files is a good indication
that no one has set the router’s time source or local time. This is much more
likely than the router’s log entries actually dating back to 1993.

Does setting the correct time on a router really matter? While proper time
configuration isn’t necessary for a router to fully operate, that doesn’t mean
you shouldn’t set the right time. Here are some of the benefits of setting the
correct time on a router:

Configure the time zone

When setting a router’s (or switch’s) correct time, the
first step is configuring the proper time zone. This is the first step for a
reason: If you set the time first and then try to set to the time zone, you’ll
have to reset the time again.

The key point to remember is that it’s not enough to know that
you’re in the Eastern or Pacific time zone. You need to know how many hours you
are from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

For example, if you’re in the Eastern Standard Time zone in
the United States, you’re five hours behind GMT. You would indicate this to the
router with -5. If you’re unsure how many hours you are from GMT, the U.S.
Navy’s Web site offers a great resource—the World Time Zone Map.

After you’ve determined your time zone value, you can set
the time zone. For example, I live in the Central Standard Time (CST) zone, so
here’s how I would configure the router:

Router(config)# clock timezone CST -6

Configure Daylight Saving Time

After setting the appropriate time zone, you need to
configure the router to adjust for Daylight Saving
. You can use the summer-time
command to accomplish this. Using our CST zone example, here’s how to configure
the router to use Daylight Saving Time:

Router(config)# clock summer-time CDT recurring

The summer-time
command tells the router to refer to Daylight Saving Time as Central Daylight Time
(CDT), which will automatically occur according to predefined dates and times on
the router. (You can use the same command to manually set the date and time for
Daylight Saving Time.) The recurring
option tells the router to use the accepted U.S. Daylight Saving Time rules for
the annual time changes in April and October.

Configure the clock

After configuring the time zone and Daylight Saving Time, the
last step is to configure the router’s clock. You must do this while in Privileged
Mode—not Global Configuration Mode.

If you’ve never done this before, the format can be a bit
tricky. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Use
    the clock set command.
  • Use
    military time.
  • Include
    seconds when setting the time.
  • Specify
    the month using its three-letter abbreviation.
  • Add
    the date and the year.

Here’s an example:

Router# clock set 10:50:00 Oct 26 2006

View the time

After configuring the time zone, Daylight Saving Time, and
the clock, you can view the clock using the show
command. Here’s an example:

Router# show clock
10:51:33.208 CDT Thu Oct 19 2006

Keep in mind that most Cisco routers and switches don’t have
internal clocks that store the time when you power them off. That means rebooting
a device will lose the set local time. However, the time zone will remain set because
the router stores it in its configuration.

For more information on Cisco IOS time configuration, check
out Cisco’s
documentation for the various clock
. How do you set the time on routers or switches? Do you set it
manually or use NTP? What other router and switch courses would you like to see covered?
Share your comments in this article’s discussion.

Miss a column?

Check out the Cisco Routers and Switches
, and catch up on David Davis’ most recent columns.

Want to learn more
about router and switch management? Automatically
sign up for our free Cisco Routers and Switches newsletter
, delivered each

David Davis has worked
in the IT industry for 12 years and holds several certifications, including
CCIE, MCSE+I, CISSP, CCNA, CCDA, and CCNP. He currently manages a group of
systems/network administrators for a privately owned retail company and
performs networking/systems consulting on a part-time basis.

Tue, 14 Nov 2023 10:00:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Cisco Firepower firewalls patched for critical bug

Cisco has disclosed a critical command injection vulnerability in Firepower Threat Defence (FTD) devices.

In its advisory for CVE-2023-20048, the networking vendor said that the bug is rated 9.9 on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System and allows an authenticated remote attacker to execute “certain unauthorised configuration commands” on the target device’s management centre software.

Configuration commands sent through the web service interface are insufficiently authorised, the company explained.

Cisco didn’t reveal which commands can be exploited, but said they’re exploited using “a crafted HTTP request”.

The management centre update is part of a larger security rollup for adaptive security appliance (ASA), Firepower management centre (FMC) and FTD software released today.

That announcement covers a total of 27 vulnerabilities described in 22 advisories.

As well as CVE-2023-20048, there are eight CVEs that carry a high severity rating.

Five are denial-of-service bugs: CVE-2023-20086, in which an IPv6 ICMP message can force a device reload; CVE-2023-20095 in ASA’s and FTD’s VPN software, attacked using crafted HTTPS requests; CVE-2023-20244, a packet inspection bug in the Firepower 2100 series firewalls; CVE-2023-20083, another IPv6 ICMP bug, this time in the FTD when configured with Snort 2; and CVE-2023-20155, a lack of rate limiting in the FMC API exploitable by sending a high rate of HTTP requests. 

There are also two code injection vulnerabilities: CVE-2023-20063 in FTD devices running FMC, allowing local attackers to run code as root; and one for and CVE-2023-20220, a pair of command injection vulnerabilities in FMC.

Wed, 01 Nov 2023 23:13:00 -0500 text/html
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Read our editorial policy to learn more about our process.

Thu, 16 Nov 2023 07:01:00 -0600 en text/html
Cisco offers light guidance as new product orders slow, sending its stock lower

Shares of Cisco Systems Inc. fell more than 11% in extended trading today as the company warned it will likely miss analysts’ expectations in its fiscal second quarter by a wide margin.

The company expects this to have a knock-on effect, and its forecast for the current fiscal year also came in low.

The disappointing guidance came in the wake of a solid earnings beat. The company reported first quarter earnings before certain costs such as stock compensation of $1.11 per share, with revenue up 8% from a year earlier to $14.67 billion. The results were better-than-expected, with analysts looking for earnings of just $1.03 per share on sales of $14.61 billion.

All told, Cisco reported a net income of $3.64 billion for the quarter, up from $2.67 billion a year earlier.

Cisco said its problem is that it has experienced a notable slowdown in new product orders during the quarter. This is because many of its clients are currently busy installing and implementing products that were delivered recently, over the prior three quarters, Cisco Chief Executive Chuck Robbins (pictured) said in a conference call with analysts.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company had been stuck with a backlog of unfulfilled orders caused by component shortages. But its supply chain constraints eased rapidly about a year ago as China exited its lockdown strategy, leading to a glut of product deliveries over the last four quarters. Now, customers have their hands full implementing all of those products.

“Our customers and our sales organizations have been very clear with us over the last 90 days that this is the issue,” Robbins said, though he also admitted that sales cycles are still longer than is usually the case.

According to Robbins, “customers are now taking time to onboard and deploy these heightened product deliveries,” hence the slowdown in new orders. He said it’s mainly larger enterprises, service providers and cloud customers that are facing these challenges, adding that the issue was “most pronounced in October.” On average, Cisco’s biggest customers are waiting to implement one to two quarters’ worth of shipped products, he added.

Cisco had a good quarter, but is now suffering from its post pandemic high, when it was finally able to deliver pandemic orders it could not fulfill due to supply chain challenges. Now that it has fulfilled those orders, the demand has weakened as enterprises are implementing and the channel reducing inventories. The good news is all product lines are growing, which has not been too often the case, and Cisco delivered approximately 1B more in profit on roughly 1B more in revenue, which means Chuck Robbins and team have kept costs constant and EPS per share are up a quarter. Let’s see if this trends continues.

Because of these customer issues, Cisco could only offer a much lower forecast than Wall Street analysts had been anticipating. Officials said they’re looking for earnings of between 82 and 84 cents in the second quarter, with revenue of $12.6 billion to $12.8 billion, implying a 7% decline from one year earlier. That compares very badly with the Street’s forecast of 99 cents pre share in earnings and $14.19 billion in sales.

For the full year, Cisco is reducing its revenue forecast while bumping up its view on earnings. The company now sees full-year earnings of between $3.87 and $3.93 on revenue of $53.8 billion to $55 billion. Previously, it had forecast a range of $3.19 to $3.32 in earnings and $57.0 billion to $58.2 billion in revenue. In any case, the new forecast is not great, as Wall Street is hoping for earnings of $4.05 per share on sales of $57.7 billion.

The after-hours stock decline masks the fact that Cisco delivered strong quarterly results, thanks to it finally being able to deliver pandemic-era orders that could not be fulfilled earlier, said Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. “But now those orders have been shipped, it is faced with weakening demand as enterprise implement those products and the channel reduces inventories,” he explained.

Charles King of Pund-IT Inc. said Cisco has been caught on one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations”, because it did a great job in recovering from the pandemic-related supply chain chaos and has gotten back its manufacturing mojo. However, he said many of its customers have been slower off the mark. “Many are still struggling to deploy and configure the new kit they ordered months ago, so you can’t really blame them for slowing or stopping orders to deal with the backlog,” King said. “But investors appear to be blaming Cisco anyway, for failing to live up to analysts’ consensus. That may be short-sighted, but no one ever said that life, let alone the markets, are fair.”

In the longer term, Cisco’s prospects do look better. During the quarter, it announced that it intends to buy the data analytics and cybersecurity software giant Splunk Inc. in a bumper $28 billion deal, which would be its largest-ever acquisition. The move catapults Cisco, which is best known for its networking gear as well as other data center equipment, to the leading ranks of cybersecurity providers.

Robbins said at the time the deal was announced that the combination of Cisco’s and Splunk’s data would have real value for enterprises, allowing them to “move from threat detection and response to threat prediction and prevention.” He said it will enable Cisco to become one of the world’s largest software companies.

Besides its cybersecurity ambitions, Cisco has a lot of hope for artificial intelligence in the longer term. During the conference call, Robbins told analysts that his company believes it can win more than $1 billion worth of orders in fiscal 2025 for AI infrastructure from cloud providers alone. He said cloud providers are looking to move to “more of a standard, broad-based technology like Ethernet, where they can have multiple sources” to support AI networking workloads.

Mueller said it’s also notable that Cisco is running a tight ship in terms of its business expenditures. “Investors can be pleased that all of Cisco’s product lines grew during the previous quarter, which has not been the case too often,” he added. “That allowed Cisco to deliver approximately $1 billion in profit on almost $15 billion in revenue. That shows Cisco has kept its cost base constant, resulting in increased earnings per share. Cisco needs to continue this trend.”

The after-hours stock decline means that Cisco’s shares are now up just 12% in the year-to-date, trailing the wider S&P 500 index, which is up 17% for the year.

Photo: Fortune GLOBAL FORUM/Flickr

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Wed, 15 Nov 2023 09:55:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Cisco Live 2023

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‘Everyone has a sustainability goal, but it’s very hard to actually measure and track and figure out what my improvements actually did in terms of environmental impact. Cisco has done a pretty good job of turning that into a dashboard through Control Hub,’ says Joe Berger, area vice president of digital experiences at Cisco Gold partner World Wide Technology.

Cisco Channel Chief Tuszik On Networking Cloud, FSO, And How Generative AI Can Help Partners Grow Their Businesses
“When you look at the Cisco Live announcements; if it’s Networking Cloud, the security piece, what we’re doing with Webex or FSO, they all are offers, rather, solutions that we bring into the market that are ready to be delivered in a managed-as-a-service motion,” Cisco Channel leader Oliver Tuszik told CRN.

Cisco Injects Generative AI Into Security, Collaboration Portfolios For ‘Reimagined’ Customer Experiences
‘We were going to be investing very heavily in this notion of AI just being part of the fabric of everything … One of the big challenges we have in our industry is shortage of skill and talent, and we can make sure that every single person can become this very sophisticated user when they start using our products,’ Cisco’s EVP of Security and Collaboration Jeetu Patel tells CRN.

Cisco Webex Go With AT&T Addresses Cloud Calling For Mobility-Minded Partners
The tech giant has teamed with AT&T to help more businesses move to the cloud for their calling needs, while unlocking new mobility opportunities for partners, the company announced at Cisco Live 2023.

Cisco Live 2023: Cisco ELT’s 5 Big Statements
CEO Chuck Robbins, alongside the tech giant’s executive leadership team, talk about Cisco’s AI, networking and security launches, as well as the biggest trends happening in the IT industry on-stage at Cisco Live 2023.

Cisco Security Cloud Platform Now Includes SSE, Multi-Cloud Feature, Firewall Updates
‘When you have 70 players on average that are part of the security stack, that’s 70 different policy engines and 70 different cracks in the system. The efficacy of companies is going down when they buy point solutions and so what our customers are telling us is [they] need an integrated platform,’ Cisco’s Jeetu Patel tells CRN.

Cisco Builds On Security Platform Strategy, Unveils Unified Networking Platform
Following in the footsteps of its Security Cloud platform, the tech giant debuts its Cisco Networking Cloud strategy at Cisco Live 2023 to the delight of channel partners.

Cisco Accelerates Platform Push With New Full Stack Observability Platform
‘Cisco is using the term full stack observability and they mean it. Full stack creates a platform, which means, essentially, an ecosystem of observability and monitoring, and very few players have anything close to that,’ Cisco Gold partner NTT tells CRN.

Tue, 06 Jun 2023 08:08:00 -0500 en text/html
“Cisco buried the lede.” >10,000 network devices backdoored through unpatched 0-day
Cables run into a Cisco data switch.
Enlarge / Cables run into a Cisco data switch.
Getty Images

On Monday, Cisco reported that a critical zero-day vulnerability in devices running IOS XE software was being exploited by an unknown threat actor who was using it to backdoor vulnerable networks. Company researchers described the infections as a "cluster of activity."

On Tuesday, researchers from security firm VulnCheck said that at last count, that cluster comprised more than 10,000 switches, routers, and other Cisco devices. All of them, VulnCheck said, have been infected by an implant that allows the threat actor to remotely execute commands that run at the deepest regions of hacked devices, specifically the system or iOS levels.

"Cisco buried the lede by not mentioning thousands of Internet-facing IOS XE systems have been implanted," VulnCheck CTO Jacob Baines wrote. "VulnCheck scanned internet-facing Cisco IOS XE web interfaces and found thousands of implanted hosts. This is a bad situation, as privileged access on the IOS XE likely allows attackers to monitor network traffic, pivot into protected networks, and perform any number of man-in-the-middle attacks."

In an email, a VulnCheck representative said the company has "fingerprinted approximately 10,000 implanted systems, but we’ve only scanned approximately half of the devices listed on Shodan/Censys." The number is likely to grow as the scan continues.

Although Cisco has yet to release a software patch, the company is urging customers to protect their devices. That means implementing a stop-gap measure to keep vulnerable devices from being exploited and running a host of scans to detect if devices have been backdoored.

"Cisco is committed to transparency," a company representative wrote in an email Tuesday. "When critical security issues arise, we handle them as a matter of top priority, so our customers understand the issues and know how to address them."We are working non-stop to provide a software fix and we strongly urge customers to take immediate action as outlined in the security advisory."

The previously unknown vulnerability, which is tracked as CVE-2023-20198, carries the maximum severity rating of 10. It resides in the Web User Interface of Cisco IOS XE software when exposed to the Internet or untrusted networks. Any switch, router, or wireless LAN controller running IOS XE that has the HTTP or HTTPS Server feature enabled and exposed to the Internet is vulnerable. On Monday, the Shodan search engine showed that as many as 80,000 Internet-connected devices could be affected.

“Successful exploitation of this vulnerability allows an attacker to create an account on the affected device with privilege level 15 access, effectively granting them full control of the compromised device and allowing possible subsequent unauthorized activity,” members of Cisco’s Talos security team wrote Monday. “This is a critical vulnerability, and we strongly recommend affected entities immediately implement the steps outlined in Cisco’s PSIRT advisory.”

Cisco said that the unknown threat actor has been exploiting the zero-day since at least September 18. After using the vulnerability to become an authorized user, the attacker creates a local user account. In most cases, the threat actor has gone on to deploy an implant that allows it to execute malicious commands at the system or iOS level, once the web server is restarted. The implant is unable to survive a reboot, but the local user accounts will remain active.

Monday’s advisory went on to say that after gaining access to a vulnerable device, the threat actor exploits a medium vulnerability, CVE-2021-1435, which Cisco patched two years ago. The Talos team members said that they have seen devices fully patched against the earlier vulnerability getting the implant installed “through an as yet undetermined mechanism.”

The implant is saved in the file path “/usr/binos/conf/nginx-conf/cisco_service.conf.” It contains two variable strings composed of hexadecimal characters. The advisory continued:

The implant is based on the Lua programming language and consists of 29 lines of code that facilitates the arbitrary command execution. The attacker must create an HTTP POST request to the device, which delivers the following three functions (Figure 1):

  1. The first function is dictated by the “menu” parameter, which must exist and must be non-empty. This returns a string of numbers surrounded by forward-slashes, which we suspect might represent the implant’s version or installation date.
  2. The second function is dictated by the “logon_hash” parameter, which must be set to “1”. This returns an 18-character hexadecimal string that is hardcoded into the implant.
  3. The third function is also dictated by the “logon_hash” parameter, which checks to see if the parameter matches a 40-character hexadecimal string that is hardcoded into the implant. A second parameter used here is “common_type”, which must be non-empty, and whose value determines whether the code is executed at the system level or IOS level. If the code is executed at the system level, this parameter must be set to “subsystem”, and if it is executed at the IOS level, the parameter must be “iox”. The IOX commands are executed at privilege level 15.
Implant code
Enlarge / Implant code

In most instances we have observed of this implant being installed, both the 18-character hexadecimal string in the second function and the 40-character hexadecimal string in the third function are unique, although in some cases, these strings were the same across different devices. This suggests there is a way for the actor to compute the value used in the third function from the value returned by the second function, acting as a form of authentication required for the arbitrary command execution provided in the third function.

The Talos team members strongly urge administrators of any affected gear to immediately search their networks for signs of compromise. The most effective means is by searching for unexplained or newly created users on devices. One means of identifying if an implant has been installed is by running the following command against the device, where the "DEVICEIP” portion is a placeholder for the IP address of the device to check:

curl -k -X POST "https[:]//DEVICEIP/webui/logoutconfirm.html?logon_hash=1"

Admin accounts may have the names cisco_tac_admin or cisco_support. IP addresses Cisco has seen so far exploiting the zero-day are 5.149.249[.]74 and 154.53.56[.]231.
Additional guidance from Cisco:

  1. Check the system logs for the presence of any of the following log messages where “user” could be “cisco_tac_admin”, “cisco_support” or any configured, local user that is unknown to the network administrator:
%SYS-5-CONFIG_P: Configured programmatically by process SEP_webui_wsma_http from console as user on line
%SEC_LOGIN-5-WEBLOGIN_SUCCESS: Login Success [user: user] [Source: source_IP_address] at 03:42:13 UTC Wed Oct 11 2023

Note: The %SYS-5-CONFIG_P message will be present for each instance that a user has accessed the web UI. The indicator to look for is new or unknown usernames present in the message.

  1. Check the system logs for the following message where filename is an unknown filename that does not correlate with an expected file installation action:
%WEBUI-6-INSTALL_OPERATION_INFO: User: username, Install Operation: ADD filename It should go without saying but the HTTP and HTTPS server feature should never be enabled on internet-facing systems as is consistent with long-established best practices. Cisco reiterated the guidance in Monday’s advisory.

VulnCheck has released a scanner of its own here.

It should go without saying, but the HTTP and HTTPS server feature should never be enabled on Internet-facing systems as is consistent with long-established best practices. Cisco reiterated the guidance in Monday’s advisory.

This vulnerability is relatively easy to exploit and is presently giving hackers the ability to take all kinds of malicious actions against as many as 10,000 infected networks. Anyone administering Cisco gear that had the Web UI exposed should assume their devices are compromised and carefully read the advisory and the above-mentioned PSIRT advisory and follow all recommendations as soon as possible.

October 17, 2023, 2:50 pm Eastern. This article has been updated with new information about how many systems are infected.

Tue, 17 Oct 2023 12:22:00 -0500 Dan Goodin en-us text/html
Cisco Partner Summit 2022

Cisco Partner Summit 2022

CRN is providing full coverage of Cisco Partner Summit 2022. Bookmark this page for the latest news, videos and exclusive videos from the show.

    Cisco SMB Segment ‘By Far’ The Biggest Partner Opportunity
    ‘The SMB market is by far the biggest opportunity to grow or even double its market share … And interesting enough, [in SMB], this is 100 percent partners,’ Cisco Channel Chief Oliver Tuszik tells CRN.

    Cisco Partner Summit 2022: CEO Chuck Robbins’ Top 5 Quotes
    ‘We’ve got stuff going on in the cloud marketplaces that we didn’t have before, we’ve got partners delivering as-a-service today, we’ve got the new SASE [Cisco Plus] offer out in the marketplace. There’s a few things we definitely still need to do, but there’s an awful lot of offers that are out there today for customers,’ Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said during the summit this week.

    Cisco Partners: New API-First Strategy Will Help Drive ‘Automation’ And ‘Efficiency’
    Partners tell CRN that Cisco’s newly established ‘API-first’ stance may not be ‘sexy’ and will be hard work, but it’s very important to the channel, especially as they begin to build out their own services.

    Cisco Security Portfolio Gains New Features, Firewall Aimed At Hybrid Work Protection
    To the delight of partners, Cisco reveals new security capabilities and a new addition to the 3100 firewall series to protect companies grappling with hybrid work and an influx of remote users at Cisco Partner Summit 2022.

    Cisco Unveils ‘New Era’ Of Specializations Focused On Solution Delivery
    ‘We’re now looking for knowledge [and] we’re looking for experience … we’re focused on the partners’ ability to actually deliver the solution. That’s what customers are looking for. And because they’re multi-architectural in nature, you can leverage a lot of the expertise that you already have invested in and have in-house,’ Cisco’s Marc Surplus tells CRN about the tech giant’s new Solution specializations.

Fri, 22 Sep 2023 12:10:00 -0500 en text/html
Anaiis Cisco

Anaiis Cisco, assistant professor of moving image production in film and media studies, received her master’s in cinema from San Francisco State University in the spring of 2019. Cisco focuses on the experiences of underrepresented racial, ethnic, queer and gendered identities. Her short film, Breathless (2017), inspired by the murder of Eric Garner, has won numerous awards and has screened at various film festivals. Cisco’s most recent short narrative, GYRL (2018), is a portrait of a preteen African American girl struggling with an abusive father. Currently in the early stages of distribution her thesis film, Drip Like Coffee, explores Black womanhood, desire and space, while rendering the Black female body as fluid.

Cisco teaches digital video production courses at Smith, where she develops films that explore the emotional and internal journeys of Black characters, confronting intimate moments of violence and trauma in diverse story worlds.

Selected Works

Breathless (2017), short film.

“Precarity, Black Life, and Filmmaking: A Conversation with Filmmaker Anaiis Cisco.” Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, 2018.

Tue, 03 Oct 2023 14:09:00 -0500 en text/html
Cisco Systems Inc.

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