Ivanti Pulse Secure Found Using 11-Year-Old Linux Version and Outdated Libraries


A reverse engineering of the firmware running on Ivanti Pulse Secure appliances has revealed numerous weaknesses, once again underscoring the challenge of securing software supply chains.

Eclypsiusm, which acquired firmware version as part of the process, said the base operating system used by the Utah-based software company for the device is CentOS 6.4.

“Pulse Secure runs an 11-year-old version of Linux which hasn’t been supported since November 2020,” the firmware security company said in a report shared with The Hacker News.

The development comes as threat actors are capitalizing on a number of security flaws discovered in Ivanti Connect Secure, Policy Secure, and ZTA gateways to deliver a wide range of malware, including web shells, stealers, and backdoors.

The vulnerabilities that have come under active exploitation in recent months comprise CVE-2023-46805, CVE-2024-21887, and CVE-2024-21893. Last week, Ivanti also disclosed another bug in the software (CVE-2024-22024) that could permit threat actors to access otherwise restricted resources without any authentication.

In an alert published yesterday, web infrastructure company Akamai said it has observed “significant scanning activity” targeting CVE-2024-22024 starting February 9, 2024, following the publication of a proof-of-concept (PoC) by watchTowr.

Eclypsium said it leveraged a PoC exploit for CVE-2024-21893 that was released by Rapid7 earlier this month to obtain a reverse shell to the PSA3000 appliance, subsequently exporting the device image for follow-on analysis using the EMBA firmware security analyzer.

This not only uncovered a number of outdated packages – corroborating previous findings from security researcher Will Dormann – but also a number of vulnerable libraries that are cumulatively susceptible to 973 flaws, out of which 111 have publicly known exploits.

Perl, for instance, hasn’t been updated since version 5.6.1, which was released 23 years ago on April 9, 2001. The Linux kernel version is 2.6.32, which reached end-of-life (EoL) as of March 2016.

“These old software packages are components in the Ivanti Connect Secure product,” Eclypsium said. “This is a perfect example as to why visibility into digital supply chains is important and why enterprise customers are increasingly demanding SBOMs from their vendors.”

Furthermore, a deeper examination of the firmware unearthed 1,216 issues in 76 shell scripts, 5,218 vulnerabilities in 5,392 Python files, in addition to 133 outdated certificates.

The issues don’t end there, for Eclypsium found a “security hole” in the logic of the Integrity Checker Tool (ICT) that Ivanti has recommended its customers to use in order to look for indicators of compromise (IoCs).

Specifically, the script has been found to exclude over a dozen directories such as /data, /etc, /tmp, and /var from being scanned, thereby hypothetically allowing an attacker to deploy their persistent implants in one of these paths and still pass the integrity check. The tool, however, scans the /home partition that stores all product-specific daemons and configuration files.

As a result, deploying the Sliver post-exploitation framework to the /data directory and executing ICT reports no issues, Eclypsium discovered, suggesting that the tool provides a “false sense of security.”

It’s worth noting that threat actors have also been observed tampering with the built-in ICT on compromised Ivanti Connect Secure devices in an attempt to sidestep detection.

In a theoretical attack demonstrated by Eclypsium, a threat actor could drop their next-stage tooling and store the harvested information in the /data partition and then abuse another zero-day flaw to gain access to the device and exfiltrate the data staged previously, all the while the integrity tool detects no signs of anomalous activity.

“There must be a system of checks and balances that allows customers and third-parties to validate product integrity and security,” the company said. “The more open this process is, the better job we can do to validate the digital supply chain, namely the hardware, firmware, and software components used in their products.”

“When vendors do not share information and/or operate a closed system, validation becomes difficult, as does visibility. Attackers will most certainly, as evidenced recently, take advantage of this situation and exploit the lack of controls and visibility into the system.”


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