Pulse Connect Secure VPN Could Allow for Remote Code Execution

by | Apr 19, 2021 | Advisories

A vulnerability has been discovered in Pulse Connect Secure VPN that could allow for remote code execution. Pulse Connect Secure VPN provides TLS and mobile VPN solutions. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow for remote code execution. Depending on the privileges associated with the application, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Applications that are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than those that operate with administrative user rights.

THREAT INTELLIGENCE:

This vulnerability is currently being exploited in the wild by suspected state-sponsored threat actors to execute arbitrary code remotely on Pulse Connect Secure gateways.

SYSTEMS AFFECTED:

  • Pulse Connect Secure prior to 9.1R.11.4

RISK:
Government:

  • Large and medium government entities: High
  • Small government entities: Medium

Businesses:

  • Large and medium business entities: High
  • Small business entities: Medium

Home users: Low

TECHNICAL SUMMARY:

A vulnerability has been discovered in Pulse Connect Secure VPN that could allow for remote code execution. The vulnerability allows an unauthenticated user to perform remote arbitrary file execution on the Pulse Connect Secure gateway, due to an authentication by-pass. Specifically this issue affects Pulse Connect Secure gateway. Exploitation of these vulnerabilities could facilitate remote code execution, privilege escalation, and lateral access to enterprise, operational technology, and cloud networks.

Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow for remote code execution. Depending on the privileges associated with the application, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Applications that are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than those that operate with administrative user rights.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

We recommend the following actions be taken:

  • Upgrade the Pulse Connect Secure server software version to the 9.1R.11.4
  • Disabling Windows File Share Browser and Pulse Secure Collaboration features
  • Block external access at the network boundary, unless external parties require service.
  • If global access isn’t needed, filter access to the affected computer at the network boundary. Restricting access to only trusted computers and networks might greatly reduce the likelihood of successful exploits.
  • Run all software as a nonprivileged user with minimal access rights. To mitigate the impact of a successful exploit, run the affected application as a user with minimal access rights.
  • Deploy network intrusion detection systems to monitor network traffic for malicious activity.
  • Deploy NIDS to detect and block attacks and anomalous activity such as requests containing suspicious URI sequences. Since the webserver may log such requests, review its logs regularly.
  • Implement multiple redundant layers of security. Since this issue may be leveraged to execute code, we recommend memory-protection schemes, such as nonexecutable stack/heap configurations and randomly mapped memory segments. This tactic may complicate exploit attempts of memory-corruption vulnerabilities.

REFERENCES:

Bleeping Computer:
https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/pulse-secure-vpn-zero-day-used-to-hack-defense-firms-govt-orgs/

CVE:
https://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2021-22893

Pulse Security:
https://kb.pulsesecure.net/articles/Pulse_Security_Advisories/SA44784