Sophos' flagship web security product open to attack

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A popular web security appliance suffers from a number of severe vulnerabilities that could provide hackers with a launching pad to fire attacks against a victim organization.

The trio of flaws are present in the previous version of Web Protection Appliance, produced by security firm Sophos. The company since has acknowledged the bugs and released an update, with the final batch of customers receiving the new version on Monday, according to a Sophos advisory. There are no reports of exploits in the wild.

On Wednesday, Austria-based security research firm SEC Consult disclosed the vulnerabilities, discovered by Wolfgang Ettlinger. According to researchers, the weaknesses could allow adversaries to "get unauthorized access to the [Sophos] appliance and plant backdoors or access configuration files containing credentials for other systems...which can be used in further attacks."

These systems include Active Directory or FTP servers, according to SEC Consult. In addition, said researchers, saboteurs could steal HTTP traffic, which could include passwords and cookies, as well as HTTPS traffic, if the customer has the appliance's "HTTPS Scanning" feature turned on.

Enabling "HTTPS Scanning" also can yield another major problem. When it's turned on, attackers can compromise private keys used for SSL certificates installed on client endpoints throughout the victim company.

"These certificates will then pass validation on the client machines, enabling various attacks or further targeting clients (e.g. man-in-the-middle, phishing)," according to an SEC Consult alert.

Going after security companies to sign certificates appears to be a trendy tool in the cyber criminal's arsenal. In February, hackers breached Bit9 and accessed its code-signing certs, enabling intruders to digitally sign malware to appear as legitimate files

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