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Cisco IOS fails to properly handle malformed OSPF packets

Vulnerability Note VU#989406

Original Release Date: 2004-08-19 | Last Revised: 2004-08-19


A denial-of-service vulnerability exists in Cisco's Internetwork Operating System (IOS). This vulnerability may allow remote attackers to conduct denial-of-service attacks on an affected device.


Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) is a routing protocol that provides a means for distributing routing information between routers. The Cisco Internetwork Operating System (IOS) implementation of OSPF contains a vulnerability that allows malformed OSPF packets to cause an affected router to reload. Such packets can be sent by an unauthenticated remote attacker and will result in a denial-of-service condition.


By sending a specially crafted OSPF packet to an affected device, a remote, unauthenticated attacker could cause the device to reload. Repeated exploitation of this vulnerability could result in a denial-of-service condition. In order to exploit this vulnerability, an attacker would need to know several parameters. These parameters include the OSPF area number, netmask, hello, and dead timers, which are configured on the affected device.


Apply a patch

Please refer to the "Software Versions and Fixes" section of the Cisco Advisory for more information on upgrading.

Use OSPF authentication

Cisco recommends using OSPF authentication to mitigate against this vulnerability. Quoting from Cisco's Advisory,

OSPF authentication may be used as a workaround. OSPF packets without a valid key will not be processed. MD5 authentication is highly recommended, due to inherent weaknesses in plain text authentication. With plain text authentication, the authentication key will be sent unencrypted over the network, which can allow an attacker on a local network segment to capture the key by sniffing packets.
For more information on OSPF authentication, please see

Restrict access

Use Access Control Lists (ACLs) to block or restrict access to affected devices from untrusted networks. For information on implementing ACLs, please see Cisco's white paper "Protecting Your Core: Infrastructure Protection Access Control Lists".

Vendor Information


Cisco Systems Inc. Affected

Updated:  August 19, 2004



Vendor Statement

We have not received a statement from the vendor.

Vendor Information

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


Please refer to Cisco's Advisory "Cisco IOS Malformed OSPF Packet Causes Reload".

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

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This vulnerability was reported by the Cisco Systems Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT).

This document was written by Damon Morda.

Other Information

CVE IDs: None
Severity Metric: 12.50
Date Public: 2004-08-18
Date First Published: 2004-08-19
Date Last Updated: 2004-08-19 20:00 UTC
Document Revision: 23

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