Cisco is aware of a significant increase in Internet scans attempting to detect devices where, after completing setup, the Smart Install feature remains enabled and without proper security controls.
This could leave the involved devices susceptible to misuse of the feature.
Customers who have not done so are encouraged to follow guidance in the Recommendations section of this notice to assess and ensure their network switches are properly protected against abuse of the Smart Install feature.
Several researchers have reported on the use of Smart Install (SMI) protocol messages toward Smart Install clients, also known as integrated branch clients (IBC), allowing an unauthenticated, remote attacker to change the startup-config file and force a reload of the device, load a new IOS image on the device, and execute high-privilege CLI commands on switches running Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software.
Cisco does not consider this a vulnerability in Cisco IOS, IOS XE, or
the Smart Install feature itself but a misuse of the Smart Install protocol, which does not require
authentication by design.
Customers who are seeking more than zero-touch deployment should consider deploying thenbsp;Cisco Network Plug and Play
Cisco has updated the Smart Install Configuration Guide to
include security best practices regarding the deployment of the Cisco Smart Install feature within customer infrastructures.
These issues have been reported by Tenable Network
Security, Daniel Turner of Trustwave SpiderLabs, and Alexander
Evstigneev and Dmitry Kuznetsov of Digital Security.
Cisco has recently published blog posts alerting our customers about the need to ensure their network switches are properly protected against abuse of the Smart Install feature, as Cisco has learned of a public posting that details potential abuse of this feature and has received reports of attacks when Smart Install was left enabled.
These blog posts are available at the following links:
Cisco PSIRT – Mitigating and Detecting Potential Abuse of Cisco Smart Install Feature
Cisco Coverage for Smart Install Client Protocol Abuse
Cisco Smart Install
Cisco Smart Install is a “plug-and-play” configuration and image-management feature that provides zero-touch deployment for new (typically access layer) switches.
The feature allows a customer to ship a Cisco switch to any location, install it in the network, and power it on without additional configuration requirements.
The Smart Install feature incorporates no authentication by design.
A Smart Install network consists of exactly one Smart Install director switch or router, also known as an integrated branch director (IBD), and one or more Smart Install client switches, also known as integrated branch clients (IBCs).
A client switch does not need to be directly connected to the director but can be up to seven hops away. Only Smart Install client switches are affected by the misuse described in this document.
The director provides a single management point for images and configuration of client switches. When a client switch is first installed into the network, the director automatically detects the new switch and identifies the co
Security Impact Rating: Informational