Security Firms Sound Alarms on CA Flaws

Vulnerabilities in ARCserve Backup and BrightStor Enterprise Backup could enable remote access to systems, including database servers.

A vulnerability in Computer Associates International Inc.s enterprise backup software is raising alarms at security firms, which caution that the flaw is being used in several exploits.

The flaw is a buffer overflow vulnerability that has been found in the BrightStor ARCserve Backup and BrightStor Enterprise Backup application agent code used on Windows platform. A remote attacker successfully exploiting the vulnerability can gain access to a users system.

First reported to CA by security firm iDefense Inc., the vulnerability and subsequent exploits have prompted CA to create a security patch and issue an alert to all of its BrightStor customers.

iDefense, recently acquired by VeriSign Inc., has listed the threat as critical, according to Michael Sutton, director of iDefense labs. "Anytime someone can take remote control of a machine, thats cause for concern."

Particularly troubling is that the type of machine most vulnerable would be database servers within a network, which are generally mission-critical equipment within a company, Sutton noted. "If an attacker can get into your database, they could probably do quite a bit of damage," he added.

The Internet Storm Center, run by research cooperative SANS Institute, has also been urging users to patch BrightStor ARCserve Backup software, noting that three different exploit codes and the code for a scanner have now been released.

Symantec confirmed that an exploit tool has been made publicly available, making it more likely than a security breach could occur.

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"Network administrators are strongly urged to ensure TCP and UDP ports 6050 and 6070 are filtered at the network perimeter, and that patches are deployed as soon as possible," Symantec noted in a security update.

Despite the warning sent to CA users, some worry that not all of the holes will be patched, leaving systems vulnerable. This could be the case for users who bought backup software from channel partners rather than through CA directly, said Alan Paller, SANS Institute director of research. Because the purchases were made through partners, CA would not have the users contact information, and the warning wouldnt be sent to them.

"The fact that CA has patched it in no way means users are protected," said Paller. "For many users, CA doesnt even know they have the software."

Paller is critical of the way that CA has handled security issues in the past, and sees the current situation as typical of how the company has approached informing users of a problem.

"They take a blame the user approach," Paller noted. "CA thinks that if a user is stupid enough to not go to their site every week and check for security updates, then its their own damn fault if something goes wrong. Its a terrible way to treat their customers."

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