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Wednesday, 31 March 2021 18:04

Tenable researcher warns VMware product flaws can be chained for remote exploit

Satnam Narang: "The workaround should only be used as a temporary stop-gap until organisations are able to plan for applying the patches." Satnam Narang: "The workaround should only be used as a temporary stop-gap until organisations are able to plan for applying the patches." Courtesy Satnam Narang's website

Cloud computing and virtualisation software and services company VMware has released fixes for two vulnerabilities in three of its products, which could be chained together and exploited to execute code remotely, a researcher says.

Satnam Narang, staff research engineer with security shop Tenable, said: "On their own, these vulnerabilities may not seem as severe as CVE-2021-21972, a remote code execution vulnerability in VMware's vCenter Server that was patched in February.

"However, if attackers chain both CVE-2021-21975 and CVE-2021-21983 together, they could also gain remote code execution privileges."

The two vulnerabilities were discovered by Egor Dimitrenko of Positive Technologies. They affect VMware vRealize Operations, VMware Cloud Foundation and vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager.

In the first case, a server side request forgery in the vRealize Operations Manager API can be exploited to steal administrative credentials. An attacker would need network access to the API to carry this out. This vulnerability was given a maximum CVSSv3 base score of 8.6.

The second issue was an arbitrary file write vulnerability in the vRealize Operations Manager API. In this case, a malicious attacker who had been authenticated with network access to the API could write files to arbitrary locations on the underlying photon operating system. This was give a maximum CVSSv3 base score of 7.2.

Both vulnerabilities were rated as important and the company listed workarounds as well.

Narang said the more severe flaw was CVE-2021-21975, the server-side request forgery vulnerability in the vROPs Manager API.

"An unauthenticated, remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a specially crafted request to the vulnerable vROPs Manager API endpoint," he explained.

"Successful exploitation would result in the attacker obtaining administrative credentials."

Narang said VMware had also patched an arbitrary file write vulnerability [CVE-2021-21983] in the VROPs Manager API, which could be used to write files to the underlying operating system.

"This vulnerability is post-authentication, meaning an attacker needs to be authenticated with administrative credentials in order to exploit this flaw," he pointed out.

Narang said while VMware had provided workarounds, but these should only be used as a temporary measure until one was able to work out a plan for applying the patches.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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