Russia-linked hackers actively exploit CVE-2020-4006 VMware flaw, NSA warns

Pierluigi Paganini December 07, 2020

The National Security Agency (NSA) warns that Russia-linked hackers are exploiting a recently patched VMware flaw in a cyberespionage campaign.

The US National Security Agency has published a security alert warning that Russian state-sponsored hackers are exploiting the recently patched CVE-2020-4006 VMware flaw to steal sensitive information from their targets.

The US intelligence agency is urging companies to update VMWare products to address the above.

Last week, the company finally released security updates to fix the CVE-2020-4006 zero-day flaw in Workspace One Access, Access Connector, Identity Manager, and Identity Manager Connector.

At the end of November, VMware only has released a workaround to address the critical zero-day vulnerability that affects multiple VMware Workspace One components. VMware Workspace ONE allows to simply and securely deliver and manage any app on any device. The flaw is a command injection bug that could be exploited by attackers to execute commands on the host Linux and Windows operating systems using escalated privileges.

Affected versions are:

  • VMware Workspace One Access 20.10 (Linux)
  • VMware Workspace One Access  20.01 (Linux)
  • VMware Identity Manager 3.3.1 up to 3.3.3 (Linux)
  • VMware Identity Manager Connector 3.3.2, 3.3.1 (Linux)
  • VMware Identity Manager Connector 3.3.3, 3.3.2, 3.3.1 (Windows)

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) also published a security advisory on the CVE-2020-4006 zero-day flaw.

“VMware has released workarounds to address a vulnerability—CVE-2020-4006—in VMware Workspace One Access, Access Connector, Identity Manager, and Identity Manager Connector. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to take control of an affected system.” reads the CISA’s advisory.

At the time of the public disclosure of the flaw, the virtualization giant did not reveal the identity of the organization or researcher who reported the vulnerability. Now the virtualization giant confirmed that the zero-day vulnerability was reported by the US intelligence agency NSA.

“The National Security Agency (NSA) released a Cybersecurity Advisory today detailing how Russian state-sponsored actors have been exploiting a vulnerability in VMware® products to access protected data on affected systems.” reads the advisory published by NSA. “This advisory emphasizes the importance for National Security System (NSS), Department of Defense (DoD), and Defense Industrial Base (DIB) system administrators to apply vendor-provided patches to affected VMware® identity management products and provides further details on how to detect and mitigate compromised networks.”

According to the NSA, the threat actors installed a web shell on the VMWare Workspace ONE system and then forged SAML credentials for themselves.

The security advisory published by the NSA did not link the attacks to a specific Russia-linked APT group.

“NSA strongly recommends that NSS, DoD, and DIB system administrators apply the vendor-issued patch as soon as possible. If a compromise is suspected, check server logs and authentication server configurations as well as applying the product update.” concludes the advisory. “In the event that an immediate patch is not possible, system administrators should apply mitigations detailed in the advisory to help reduce risk of exploitation/compromise/attack.”

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, NSA)

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