The FBI confirmed that is investigating on the alleged breach of Juniper Networks VPN software that resulted in the introduction of unauthorized code in the OS running on Juniper firewalls. Juniper Networks makes communications equipment for enterprises and government organizations, including the U.S. government.
An “unauthorized code” was discovered in the operating system for Juniper NetScreen firewalls. The company admitted the presence of the “unauthorized code” that could allow an attacker to decrypt VPN traffic.
[“unauthorized code”] “could allow a knowledgeable attacker to gain administrative access to NetScreen devices and to decrypt VPN connections.”
“During a recent internal code review, Juniper discovered unauthorized code in ScreenOS that could allow a knowledgeable attacker to gain administrative access to NetScreen devices and to decrypt VPN connections,” Juniper Chief Information officer Bob Worrall wrote. “Once we identified these vulnerabilities, we launched an investigation into the matter, and worked to develop and issue patched releases for the latest versions of ScreenOS.” states the advisory.
According to The Register, the presence of the unauthorized code could date back to 2008, the experts referred a 2008 notice issued by Juniper’s about a security issued that impacts ScreenOS 6.2.0r15 through 6.2.0r18 and 6.3.0r12 through 6.3.0r20. ScreenOS 6.2 was released. The Screen OS 6.3 was presented in 2009.
The U.S. officials are now investigating the security breach of Juniper Networks software over concerns the “backdoor entry” allowed nation-state hackers to spy on communications of the U.S. government.
The Department of Homeland Security is working with Juniper in order to discover who inserted the bogus code in the Juniper devices and why.
“A senior U.S. official who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter said the Department of Homeland Security is working with Juniper as it investigates the issue.” reported Reuters.
The unauthorized code could decrypt VPN devices without leaving a trace.
Juniper sustains that the unauthorized code it found had been inserted into its ScreenOS software.
“A skilled attacker would likely remove these entries from the local log file, thus effectively eliminating any reliable signature that the device had been compromised,”reads the Juniper’s security update.
Juniper also confirmed a second security issue that would allow an attacker monitoring VPN traffic.
A separate advisory issued by the company confirms the presence of two separate vulnerabilities in its products, the first one allows unauthorized remote administrative access to an affected device over SSH or telnet, “The second issue may allow a knowledgeable attacker who can monitor VPN traffic to decrypt that traffic,” the advisory said. “It is independent of the first issue. There is no way to detect that this vulnerability was exploited.”
At the time I was writing, Juniper confirmed it hadn’t discovered these security issues were exploited.
The disclosure of the security breach has prompted an investigation by the FBI into whether a foreign government wes trying to eavesdrop encrypted communication of U.S. government employees.
“The FBI is investigating the breach, which involved hackers installing a back door on computer equipment, U.S. officials told CNN.” continues the CNN. “The concern, U.S. officials said, is that sophisticated hackers who compromised the equipment could use their access to get into any company or government agency that used it. One U.S. official described it as akin to “stealing a master key to get into any government building.”
Stay Tuned …
(Security Affairs – Juniper firewall, unauthorized code)