Aruba forces customers into Cloud: Offers no way out
February 18, 2014 6 Comments
Authors note: Aruba has addressed this satisfactorily by removing the offending release of code. Further details are available in the comments section of the post below. This header was added as a post-script to the original blog which remains below for posterity. Well done Aruba.
Software updates are a matter of life. Developers and coders aren’t perfect, bugs need to be fixed, new features need to be rolled out, new hardware needs to be supported. As networking professionals, we’ve come to terms with the sometimes continual churn that patch vehicles have enabled – the Internet as a distribution mechanism has made it commonplace for manufactures to ship incomplete features or functionality under the guise of ‘by the time you complain about it, we’ll have a download ready to fix it”. They all do it. We all consume it.
Sometimes a manufacturer does something so egregious and underhandedly reprehensible that it simply cannot be. Aruba release their 184.108.40.206 ArubaOS on Feb 15th, 2014 and snuck in a ‘phone home’ feature. They state twice that they’re enabling this feature by default:
Once buried on their dashboard if you happen to navigate to their code by clicking on the words in their tree, not the ‘+’.
The second is in their release notes. I applaud their efforts to make their customers aware that they will be changing the default values in their release notes, but the download page navigation needs some help. Their release notes clearly state:
The PhoneHome Automatic Reporting feature is enabled by default. PhoneHome feature can be disabled by selecting the Disable option under Maintenance > Aruba TAC Server section of the WebUI.
What they do not tell you is that even if you have explicitly disabled this option previously, when you update your code to the afflicted 220.127.116.11 build, it automatically re-enables this feature without warning you! Aruba intentionally snuck in an information gathering option and mislead their customers by stating that it was only enabling the ‘feature’ by default. In common english, this means when you’ve accepted the default settings – for example on a new build or a controller default, this option will be enabled. What they did not tell you is that there is no ‘opt-out’ way of having this turned on during a code update! They certainly give you guidance on how to disable it post-installation, but by that point in time, it can safely be assumed that your controller has phoned home and divulged all of your enterprise wireless configurations – information that you may not want to send to them – such as your PSKs, your RADIUS shared secrets, your default local administrator credentials – all without warning their unsuspecting, and all-too trusting customers, that Aruba was going to be maintaining a list of their most secret enterprise data.
Aruba is secretly compiling data from all of their existing enterprise customers regardless of any opt-out that was previously set.
What if your company had a security policy in place that stated that no configurations were to be shared outside of your organization? What if you had no Cloud strategy? How does having Aruba keep a copy of your configuration expose your organization to compliance issues? How will that impact FIPS compliance? Seemingly no one at Aruba cares about these issues and as far as I’m aware, there are only two ways to prevent this from occurring – and both need to be planned for before you update your software:
- blackhole or ACL off your controllers from talking to the Aruba cloud until you can log into the controller.
- disconnect your controller from the network during your update and console into it to undo the command.
Either way is intrusive and difficult to manage and if you were not aware of this data-heist prior to your update, you have no way of confirming if your data has already been compromised. In my opinion Aruba needs to do damage control here real-quick like and:
- Pull the malicious and infected code off of their downloads section immediately.
- Apologize for negligently harvesting customer data.
- Clearly articulate what customer data was stolen and how it was stored.
- Clearly articulate how long once a controller has come online that it ‘rats your configs out’ to the manufacturer.
- Give customers the option to have their data removed from Arubas servers and have a third party audit this removal for confirmation.
- Modify the code to obey previous opt-out configurations and re-post it.
Until then, you may want to let your SOC, CTO, IT Director, or resident person in charge that if you did the 18.104.22.168 code update from Aruba that you should consider your network keys, shared secrets, and local admin accounts compromised and start working on a remediation plan immediately.