SSD Advisory – Cisco Prime Infrastructure File Inclusion and Remote Command Execution to Privileges Escalation

Credit to Author: SSD / Ori Nimron| Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2018 05:12:22 +0000

Vulnerabilities Summary
Cisco Prime Infrastructure (CPI) contains two vulnerabilities that when exploited allow an unauthenticated attacker to achieve root privileges and execute code remotely. The first vulnerability is a file upload vulnerability that allows the attacker to upload and execute JSP files as the Apache Tomcat user. The second vulnerability is a privilege escalation to root by bypassing execution restrictions in a SUID binary.

Vendor Response
Cisco has issued an advisory,, which provides a workaround and a fix for the vulnerability. From our assessment the provided fix only addresses the file uploading part of the exploit, not the file inclusion, the ability to execute arbitrary code through it or the privileges escalation issue that the product has.


An independent security researcher, Pedro Ribeiro, has reported this vulnerability to Beyond Security’s SecuriTeam Secure Disclosure program.

Affected systems
Cisco Prime Infrastructure 3.2 and newer

Vulnerability Details
First Vulnerability: Arbitrary file upload and execution via tftp and Apache Tomcat
Attack Vector: Remote
Constraints: None

Most web applications running on the CPI virtual appliance are deployed under /opt/CSCOlumos/apache-tomcat-<VERSION>/webapps. One of these applications is “swimtemp”, which symlinks to /localdisk/tftp:

As the name implies, this is the directory used by TFTP to store files. Cisco has also enabled the upload of files to this directory as TFTPD is started with the -c (file create) flag, and it accepts anonymous connections:

The TFTPD port (69) is also open to the world in the virtual appliance firewall, so it is trivial to upload a JSP web shell file using a tftp client to the /localdisk/tftp/ directory.

The web shell will then be available at https://<IP>/swimtemp/<SHELL>, and it will execute as the “prime” user, which is an unprivileged user that runs the Apache Tomcat server.

Second Vulnerability: runrshell Command Injection with root privileges
Attack Vector: Local
Constraints: None

The CPI virtual appliance contains a binary at /opt/CSCOlumos/bin/runrshell, which has the SUID bit set and executes as root. It is supposed to start a restricted shell that can only execute commands in /opt/CSCOlumos/rcmds. The decompilation of this function is shown below:

As it can be seen above, the binary uses the system() function to execute:
/bin/bash -r -c “<CMD>”. with the PATH set to /opt/CSCOlumos/rcmds, and the restricted (-r) flag passed to bash, meaning that only commands in the PATH can be executed, environment variables cannot be changed or set, directory cannot be changed, etc.

However, due to the way system() function calls “bash -c”, it is trivial to inject a command by forcing an end quote after <CMD> and the bash operator ‘&&’:
[prime@prime34 ~]$ /opt/CSCOlumos/bin/runrshell ‘” && /usr/bin/whoami #’



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