CCIE or Null!

My journey to CCIE!

Secure Cisco Device Management.

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One thing that should be standard in your setup, is secure management. Being a network engineer requires you to secure your management interfaces, whether the management interface is a web page or remote CLI session, it should be encrypted and authenticated. After all configuring port security and firewalls are useless if your administrative credentials are sniffed off the network in clear text, or worst case your entire configuration.

First thing you want to do is activate the secure protocols and disable the weak protocols. So we would issue the following commands:

As you can see we first disabled the HTTP protocol, and then enabled HTTPS (Note: the first time you enable HTTPS a certificate may be generated), then configured the vty lines to accept only SSH, and not telnet connections.

Note: Prior to disabling telnet and enabling SSH, you want to configure the aaa new-model parameters along with any local users DB entries. See this Cisco guide for configuring SSH in more detail. Last thing you want to do is lose remote access to your device.

Now this device can only be managed via HTTPS or SSH, telnet and HTTP access have been disabled. This will prevent the administrative credentials of your network devices from being sniffed off the network in clear text, only encrypted cipher text will be found.

Just to push the point home some more, here is a TCP stream where I telnetted into a lab switch and issued the sh run command. First off you see the password I entered to access the switch and secondly the entire output of the sh run command is right there in clear text!

Now, I did a second capture where I accessed the switch via SSH and issued the same commands.

Very different output, as you can see, in the beginning you see I used Putty after that the encryption algorithm exchange and the rest is cipher text.

You can also verify this by using NMAP to perform a port scan on the device to see what ports the device is listening on.

Here is a NMAP Scan with all four protocols enabled (Telnet, SSH, HTTP, and HTTPS)

Here you can see, the lab switch is listening on all four ports, so individuals can connect to this device in an insecure manner. (The option should not even be out there)

Now a second NMAP scan after the commands shown above were entered.

Now the device is only listening on 22 and 443. This device can only be managed in a secure way.

I’ll end this on a final note… The tools I used here are all free to download NMAP, WireShark, and Putty. So it doesn’t take much for some barely knowledgeable (and bored) user on your network to start sniffing packets on your network.

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