Cisco fixes massive TCP flaw
Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) now has a critical patch out for its IOS operating system fixing a TCP flaw that could trigger a Denial of Service (DoS) condition.
The TCP flaw is similar in nature to one that Microsoft patched as part of its September Patch Tuesday update. TCP is the core transport protocol for most web traffic and the flaw is one that is not trivial.
"By manipulating the state of a TCP connection, an attacker
could force the TCP connection to remain in a long-lived state, possibly
indefinitely," Cisco's warns in its advisory. "If enough TCP connections are forced into a long-lived or
indefinite state, resources on a system under attack may be consumed,
preventing new TCP connections from being accepted."
In other words, a flaw in TCP could have enable a DoS attack.
According to Cisco's advisory, actually triggering the DoS requires the attacker to complete a TCP three-way handshake
with a vulnerable system.
Such an attack was made simple in 2008 by way of a tool called Sockstress which was released by outpost24 security researchers. According the Sockstress website the tool is able to hep security researchers test for a generic issue that affects the availability of TCP services and the issue could be used to create a Denial of Service attack.
Why then if a tool has been available for a year has it taken so long for this issue to be fixed?