Hackers backdoored Cisco ASA devices via two zero-days (CVE-2024-20353, CVE-2024-20359)

A state-sponsored threat actor has managed to compromise Cisco Adaptive Security Appliances used on government networks across the globe and use two zero-day vulnerabilities to install backdoors on them, Cisco Talos researchers have shared on Wednesday.

“On a compromised ASA, the attackers submit shellcode via the host-scan-reply field, which is then parsed by the Line Dancer implant. The host-scan-reply field, typically used in later parts of the SSL VPN session establishment process, is processed by ASA devices configured for SSL VPN, IPsec IKEv2 VPN with ‘client-services’ or HTTPS management access,” the researchers explained.

Cisco has released patches for CVE-2024-20353 and CVE-2024-20359, provided indicators of compromise, Snort signatures, and has outlined several methods for locating the Line Runner backdoor on ASA devices.

Organizations using Cisco ASA are advised to implement the patches as soon as possible as there are no workarounds that can address the two vulnerabilities.

Cisco researchers worked on analyzing these attacks with the help of several companies and governmental cybersecurity agencies from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. “This actor utilized bespoke tooling that demonstrated a clear focus on espionage and an in-depth knowledge of the devices that they targeted, hallmarks of a sophisticated state-sponsored actor,” the researchers noted.

“Further, network telemetry and information from intelligence partners indicate the actor is interested in – and potentially attacking – network devices from Microsoft and other vendors. Regardless of your network equipment provider, now is the time to ensure that the devices are properly patched, logging to a central, secure location, and configured to have strong, multi-factor authentication,” Cisco Talos warned.

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