Government Agencies Warn of State-Sponsored Actors Exploiting Publicly Known Vulnerabilities
State-sponsored actors from Russia and China are leveraging several of the same publicly known vulnerabilities in their attacks, all of which have patches available.
On October 20, the National Security Agency (NSA) published a detailed security advisory to inform defenders about Chinese state-sponsored "cyber actors" exploiting known vulnerabilities. The advisory is meant to help network defenders prioritize patching and mitigation efforts and further specifies that internet-facing assets like remote access tools and external web services are key targets for threat actors.
Two days later, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a joint cybersecurity advisory with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about Russian state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) actors leveraging five publicly known vulnerabilities in attacks. Three of the five vulnerabilities listed in this advisory were also in the NSA alert.
While the NSA alert focused primarily on National Security Systems, it ends with a broader warning, "Due to the various systems and networks that could be impacted by the information in this product [the NSA alert] outside of these sectors, NSA recommends that the CVEs above be prioritized for action by all network defenders."
Many of the vulnerabilities in these advisories align with similar alerts that have been published by CISA over the last year and all of the vulnerabilities listed have patches available.
This is the latest in a series of alerts this year from government agencies warning about threat actors leveraging known vulnerabilities with patches available. Two of the vulnerabilities listed in the NSA alert, CVE-2020-19781 and CVE-2019-11510, were identified as some of the most exploited vulnerabilities in 2020 in the CISA Top 10 Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities alert. Earlier in October, CISA partnered with the FBI on a joint advisory regarding APT activity leveraging several known vulnerabilities, including CVE-2020-1472 "Zerologon." Several of the vulnerabilities listed in that joint advisory are also included in the latest NSA alert.
Patching and Mitigation
The NSA lists six steps for general mitigation in its alert. First on the list is timely patching and updating:
- Keep systems and products updated and patched as soon as possible after patches are released.
- Expect that data stolen or modified (including credentials, accounts, and software) before the device was patched will not be alleviated by patching, making password changes and reviews of accounts a good practice.
- Disable external management capabilities and set up an out-of-band management network.
- Block obsolete or unused protocols at the network edge and disable them in device configurations.
- Isolate internet-facing services in a network Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to reduce the exposure of the internal network.
- Enable robust logging of internet-facing services and monitor the logs for signs of compromise.
This series of warnings from government agencies should sufficiently underscore the importance of quickly and completely patching these vulnerabilities. Threat actors of various skill levels are actively exploiting these flaws in attacks against diverse targets and will continue to do so as long as targets have not applied the available patches for their respective devices.
Tenable has product coverage for all 27 vulnerabilities listed in both the NSA and CISA/FBI alerts. The table below includes links to the relevant plugins for each vulnerability as well as Tenable Research analysis.
|CVEs||Product||Disclosure Date||Plugins & Additional Info|
|CVE-2015-4852||Oracle WebLogic Server||November 2015||Plugins|
|CVE-2017-6327||Symantec Messaging Gateway||August 2017||Plugins|
|CVE-2018-6789||Exim Message Transfer Agent||February 2018||Plugins|
|CVE-2018-4939||Adobe ColdFusion||May 2018||Plugins|
|CVE-2019-3396||Atlassian Confluence||March 2019||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2019-0708||Windows Remote Desktop Protocol||April 2019||Plugins | Blog Posts: 1, 2, 3|
|CVE-2019-0803||Windows Win32k||April 2019||Plugins|
|CVE-2019-11510||Pulse Connect Secure||April 2019||Plugins | Blog Posts: 1, 2, 3, 4|
|CVE-2019-11580||Atlassian Crowd||June 2019||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2019-1040||Windows NTLM||June 2019||Plugins|
|CVE-2019-18935||Telerik UI for ASP.NET||December 2019||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2019-19781||Citrix Application Delivery Controller (ADC), Gateway and SDWAN WAN-OP||December 2019||Plugins | Blog Posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6|
|CVE-2020-0601||Windows CryptoAPI||January 2020||Plugins | Blog Posts: 1, 2|
|CVE-2020-2555||Oracle Coherence||January 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-3118||Cisco Discovery Protocol||February 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-0688||Microsoft Exchange Server||February 2020||Plugins | Blog Posts: 1, 2, 3|
|CVE-2020-8515||DrayTek Vigor||February 2020||Plugins|
|CVE-2020-10189||Zoho ManageEngine||March 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-5902||F5 BIG-IP||July 2020||Plugins | Blog Posts: 1, 2 ,3|
|CVE-2020-15505||MobileIron MDM||July 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-1350||Windows DNS Server||July 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-8193||Citrix ADC, Gateway and SDWAN WAN-OP||July 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-8195||Citrix ADC, Gateway and SDWAN WAN-OP||July 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-8196||Citrix ADC, Gateway and SDWAN WAN-OP||July 2020||Plugins | Blog Post|
|CVE-2020-1472||Microsoft Netlogon||August 2020||Plugins | Blog Posts: 1 ,2, 3|
|Vulnerabilities in CISA/FBI alert (AA20-296A)|
|CVE-2018-13379||Fortinet VPN||May 2019||Plugins | Blog Posts: 1, 2, 3|
|CVE-2019-10149||Exim||June 2019||Plugins | Blog Post|
Get more information
- Attend our October 29 webinar: Ramp-Up Your Response to Latest State Sponsored Attacks, 2pm ET, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020
- NSA Alert: Chinese State-Sponsored Actors Exploit Publicly Known Vulnerabilities
- CISA/FBI Alert (AA20-296A): Russian State-Sponsored Advanced Persistent Threat Actor Compromises U.S. Government Targets
Join Tenable's Security Response Team on the Tenable Community.
Learn more about Tenable, the first Cyber Exposure platform for holistic management of your modern attack surface.
Get a free 30-day trial of Tenable.io Vulnerability Management.
- Threat Intelligence
- Threat Management
- Vulnerability Management
- Vulnerability Scanning
Are You Vulnerable to the Latest Exploits?
Enter your email to receive the latest cyber exposure alerts in your inbox.