Cisco is one of the world’s largest communications and network hardware companies. A significant number of US firms rely on Cisco for business hardware like routers and other equipment. That includes small businesses that rely on commercial internet from providers like Charter Spectrum cable. Cisco has enjoyed a generally good reputation for quality and security. This has contributed to it holding a key position in the tech market. Until recently, that is.
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A Security Flaw Threatens Older Cisco Equipment
A recent flaw in SMB equipment from Cisco created an uproar. The problem is with service in older routers known as UPnP. The acronym stands for universal plug and play. It has helped users connect more easily to the router. This service, however, seems to have a flaw that a remote cyberattack can target. An attacker could remotely gain unauthenticated access. The next step is to execute a command or cause devices on the network to cycle through restarts. This will typically be something like a denial-of-service attack that could cripple the business.
What Does the Flaw Do?
The vulnerability is potentially fatal to business operations that use older equipment. Cisco believes the UPnP validation protocols are now outdated. This could potentially allow a remote user to access a connected device, and thereby remotely infiltrate the network. The outdated validation may fail to detect incoming threats. In fact, the company has released no updates for the flawed hardware since 2019. And apparently, it has no plans of doing so.
Why Cisco Won’t Fix the Flaw
For the second time in its history, Cisco has refused to release updates to fix outdated hardware. The company maintains that the affected models are already within the last part of their lifecycle. From the company’s perspective, it makes little financial sense to keep upgrading obsolete hardware. Especially when the company continues to manufacture newer and safer models every year. Therefore, Cisco advises its SMB customers to not wait for a patch fix or update. Instead, they’re advised to write off compromised and obsolete equipment and migrate to newer hardware.
Which Products Are Most at Risk
As you may have picked up already, the flaw is not common across all Cisco products. It is a result of equipment simply reaching the end of its intended lifecycle. In other words, businesses need products that can keep up with modern cyber threats. Remember that cyberattacks continue to evolve and grow more sophisticated with each attack. At some point, hardware will reach its capacity for upgrades, after which it simply won’t be able to handle newer threats. For now, this specific flaw threatens older models and services that are pretty much obsolete anyway. SMBs with newer equipment will likely not have to worry about this particular flaw.
What to Do if Your Router is Compromised
If you have a model purchased around 2019 or later, your business network is most likely still safe. But if you have been using older equipment, you need to start planning a migration to newer products. In the interim, you can take a few steps to protect your business data and devices. A patch fix is not very likely. But you can still continue to work if you move to a Local Area Network or LAN instead of Wi-Fi. Technology evolves fast, but there is usually a period of uncertainty. A new type of system may be promising. But it may not always pan out into anything meaningful. On the other hand, legacy systems may be in danger of becoming obsolete. But manufacturers may include underlying legacy tech in case someone needs it. The UPnP feature is now too dangerous for older models. So, a system migration is the only real fix. Everything else is a stopgap.