A Networking Solutions firm- Cisco recently made headlines in the cybersecurity sector. A critical vulnerability was found in its IOS XE software. The CVE-2023-20198 breach presents issues regarding network vulnerability and the possibility of cyber attacks.

Network security is crucial in the rapidly changing digital environment. According to the latest research, it was observed that in September 2023, there were 71 publicly announced cyber attacks. This accounts for 3,808,687,191 compromised records, bringing the year’s total to more than 4.5 billion. Robust and secure networks are essential to the smooth operation of businesses worldwide. It is not false to say that the digital world is not without cyber attacks anymore.

Introduction to Cisco

The extensively used operating system that runs Cisco networking devices is Cisco IOS XE Software. This offers network administrators a stable and adaptable platform. With its features and capabilities, it is a part of the network architecture for many businesses. The following section aims to look into the rising alarm over flaws of the Cisco IOS XE Software and the critical vulnerability: CVE-2023-20198  that came across. Further, we will elucidate and discuss how one can be secure from such vulnerabilities and have a strong cyber security framework.

Understanding the Critical Vulnerability

Recent assessments have identified several major vulnerabilities in Cisco IOS XE Software. These flaws jeopardize the security and stability of network systems substantially. One of the flaws allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code. They were elevated with the privileges on vulnerable devices. Unauthorized access, data breaches, and even total control over the infiltrated systems could result from this.

Cisco has reported that when Cisco IOS XE software is exposed to the internet or untrusted networks, active exploitation of a previously undiscovered vulnerability in the Web User Interface (Web UI) functionality (CVE-2023-20198) is taking place. This impacts Cisco IOS XE-running physical and virtual devices that have the HTTP or HTTPS Server capability enabled.  

A security flaw in the web-based administration interface of Cisco IOS XE software was revealed to be a defect. An attacker with legitimate administrator credentials could exploit this vulnerability to carry out various harmful tasks, such as changing configurations without authorization or infecting compromised devices with malicious code. Additionally, researchers have found more flaws that might cause Denial-of-Service attack (DoS) conditions to bypass security measures and have unauthorized access to networks.

Implant Analysis: A Closer Look on Critical Vulnerability

The harmful implant enabled unrestricted command execution. The Lua programming language enabled arbitrary command execution in just 29 lines of code for building this. The attackers were able to deploy the implant on susceptible devices by taking advantage of CVE-2021-1435. Although it lacked persistence, this implant posed a serious risk to the networks in which it was installed. This enabled unauthorized users to execute instructions at the system or IOS level.

Impact of Active Exploitation on Network Security

Active exploitation has a big effect on network security and can have a big impact on an organization. Due to the Cisco IOS XE software vulnerability, important network devices may become uninvitedly accessed. This further leads to jeopardizing their integrity and confidentiality. By using this vulnerability, attackers can take over the impacted devices. This later possibly intercepted confidential information changed configurations, or initiated other network cyber attacks.

Cisco Raises Alarm Over Critical Vulnerability in IOS XE Software

Moreover, by generating service interruptions or lowering network performance, active exploitation might interfere with regular company activities. This destroys an organization’s reputation and the trust of its clients, causing financial losses and being a victim of cyber attacks.

The consequences of active exploitation highlight how crucial prompt patching and preventative security measures are. Companies must monitor for vulnerabilities. Businesses should ensure to implement relevant fixes as quickly as possible. Quick solutions can minimize the impact of such flaws on network security. Implementing strong security measures, such as network segmentation, intrusion detection systems, and access controls, accomplishes this.

Mitigation Methods from Critical Vulnerability

Advisors recommend organizations disable the HTTP server feature on systems accessible over the internet. This is a measure that aligns with both industry best practices and official standards.

In order to find potential compromises, businesses can also carry out certain VAPT testing or security checks. This includes looking through system logs and executing diagnostic commands. Being proactive and using these techniques is essential to preventing unwanted access leading to cyber attacks and reducing the threats related to this critical vulnerability.

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Kratikal: Ensuring Comprehensive Network Security

Companies require powerful solutions to secure their networks in the face of rising cyber threats. Kratikal, a leading cyber security company, provides cutting-edge Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) services. Kratikal assists organizations in identifying vulnerabilities, prioritizing risks, and implementing effective security solutions by conducting comprehensive security assessments.

Kratikal’s VAPT services are beneficial in resolving vulnerabilities such as the one discovered in Cisco’s IOS XE software. Kratikal provides actionable information through rigorous testing and analysis, enabling businesses to strengthen their defenses and guard against potential cyber-attacks.


Companies must be watchful against cyber attacks as the digital environment becomes more complex. Cisco’s recent exposure of a significant vulnerability in its IOS XE software serves as a sharp reminder of the difficulties that businesses face. Companies may fortify their networks and maintain a secure digital environment by following Cisco’s guidelines, removing risky features, and employing the knowledge of cybersecurity experts like Kratikal.

Integrating Kratikal’s VAPT services into cybersecurity policies enables organizations to fix vulnerabilities proactively, reducing the risk of cyber attacks. A proactive approach to network security is critical as businesses navigate the digital age, and Kratikal is a trusted partner in this endeavor, delivering comprehensive solutions to secure networks and guard against new threats.

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