A critical vulnerability (CVE-2023-20011) has been identified in the web-based management interface of Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) and Cisco Cloud Network Controller, which was once known as Cisco Cloud APIC. This vulnerability could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to perform a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attack on the affected system, leading to potential unauthorized access and modification of system configurations, account creation, and other actions. This post will provide details on the vulnerability, a code snippet for understanding, and links to original references.

Vulnerability Details

The vulnerability exists due to insufficient CSRF protections in the web-based management interface of the affected systems, i.e., Cisco APIC and Cloud Network Controller. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by persuading a user of the interface to click on a malicious link. A successful exploit would enable the attacker to perform arbitrary actions with the privilege level of the affected user. If the user has administrative privileges, these actions could include modifying the system configuration and creating new privileged accounts.

Code Snippet

Here is an example of a malicious HTML code that could be used to exploit this vulnerability.

    <form action="http://victim.example.com/cisco-apic/csrf-attack"; method="POST">
      <input type="hidden" name="malicious_action" value="change_configuration" />
      <input type="hidden" name="new_admin_user" value="attacker" />
      <input type="submit" value="Click me!" />

In this example, the attacker would send the targeted user an email or social media message containing a link to a malicious website containing the above HTML code. When clicked, the code would send a POST request to the victim's APIC management interface, potentially changing the system configuration or creating a new administrator account for the attacker.

For further details, please refer to the original sources of information

1. Cisco Security Advisory: Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Cross-Site Request Forgery Vulnerability
2. NVD - National Vulnerability Database: CVE-2023-20011 Detail

Mitigation and Exploit Prevention

Organizations using the Cisco APIC web-based management interface should ensure that they apply the appropriate security updates and follow the recommendations provided by Cisco. This could include updating the affected system to a fixed software release, following the instructions and guidelines provided in the references. Additionally, organizations should train their employees to exercise caution while clicking links received via email or other communication platforms.


The CVE-2023-20011 vulnerability in Cisco APIC and Cloud Network Controller poses a significant risk to organizations relying on these platforms for their network management. By understanding the details of the exploit and taking the necessary preventative measures, organizations can reduce their risk and help ensure the security of their networks and systems. Stay informed and protect your infrastructure from potential attackers by keeping yourself updated on the latest vulnerabilities and security advisories.


Published on: 02/23/2023 20:15:00 UTC
Last modified on: 03/03/2023 16:05:00 UTC