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Cisco PIX Firewall Manager stores enable password in plain text

Vulnerability Note VU#639507

Original Release Date: 2001-10-12 | Last Revised: 2001-10-31


A vulnerability exists in the way the Cisco Pix Firewall Manager stores authentication credentials which could allow local attackers to have read access to the enable password for the Cisco Pix Firewall.


The PIX Firewall Manager (PFM) is a software package designed to allow system administrators to remotely configure Cisco Pix Firewalls from a Windows NT workstation. When the PIX Firewall Manager (PFM) connects to a Cisco Pix Firewall, the Firewall Manager stores the 'enable' password (the password used to gain access to the firewall) in plaintext on the Windows NT workstation running the PFM software. Additionally, the password is stored in a location that is accessible to all users on the workstation. If the workstation is compromised, it's trivial to retrieve the password and gain access to the Pix Firewall.


An attacker can gain administrative access to a Cisco Pix Firewall. Once the attacker has obtained this access, he or she can do anything the legitimate firewall administrator could do. It is important to note that in order to exploit this vulnerability, an intruder must first obtain access to a local user account on the workstation where the PIX Firewall Manager (PFM) resides. This may be a difficult task, as the management station is most likely on the internal network. However, it is important to understand that intruders may exist on the inside of your network perimeter.


Use the PIX Device Manager instead of the PIX Firewall Manager (PFM). Additionally, make sure that you are running software version 6.0 or later on your Pix Firewall.

Vendor Information


Cisco Affected

Updated:  October 31, 2001



Vendor Statement

The Cisco PFM (PIX Firewall Manager ) utility has been deprecated, all engineering effort for PIX device-level management is currently focused on PIX Device Manager (PDM).

The PFM utility is only for use from inside the firewall, and is expected to be running on a well protected host. The management host running PFM is intended to be an inside, secured host such that unauthorized personnel would not have access to the PFM log. A management device that is compromised will allow a determined attacker many options for information disclosure. For example, installation of a keystroke recorder would allow an attacker to easily gain further information, no matter how it was protected within the filesystem and internal structure of the device.

In summary, we consider the report to be valid, however it is not something we will repair in the PFM.

Vendor Information

The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.


The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

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Florencio Umel Jr. of Novacoast International Inc. has been publicly credited with discovering this vulnerability.

This document was written by Ian A. Finlay.

Other Information

CVE IDs: CVE-2001-1098
Severity Metric: 6.28
Date Public: 2001-10-01
Date First Published: 2001-10-12
Date Last Updated: 2001-10-31 21:16 UTC
Document Revision: 45

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