This policy was created to guide and inform Cisco customers in the event of a reported vulnerability in a Cisco product or cloud-hosted service. It ensures that Cisco customers have a consistent, unambiguous resource to help them understand how Cisco responds to events of this nature.
This policy clearly states how Cisco addresses reported security vulnerabilities in Cisco products and cloud-hosted services, including the timeline, actions, and responsibilities that apply to all customers.
Cisco Product Security Incident Response
The Cisco Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) is responsible for responding to Cisco product security incidents. The Cisco PSIRT is a dedicated, global team that manages the receipt, investigation, and public reporting of information about security vulnerabilities and issues related to Cisco products and services. Cisco defines a security vulnerability as a weakness in the computational logic (e.g., code) found in software and hardware components that, when exploited, results in a negative impact to confidentiality, integrity, or availability. Cisco reserves the right to deviate from this definition based on specific circumstances. The Cisco PSIRT adheres to ISO/IEC 29147:2018, which are guidelines for disclosure of potential vulnerabilities established by the International Organization for Standardization.
The on-call Cisco PSIRT works 24 hours a day with Cisco customers, independent security researchers, consultants, industry organizations, and other vendors to identify possible security vulnerabilities and issues with Cisco products and networks.
Reporting or Obtaining Support for a Suspected Security Vulnerability
Individuals or organizations that are experiencing a product security issue are strongly encouraged to contact the Cisco PSIRT. Cisco welcomes reports from independent researchers, industry organizations, vendors, customers, and other sources concerned with product or network security. At minimum, a description of the potential vulnerability is needed to report a security issue.
To contact the Cisco PSIRT, use one of the following methods:
+1 877 228 7302 (toll-free within North America)
+1 408 525 6532 (international direct dial)
For general security concerns about Cisco products and cloud-hosted services, the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) can provide configuration and technical assistance. The Cisco TAC can also help with nonsensitive security incidents and software upgrades for security bug fixes. To contact the Cisco TAC, use one of the following methods:
Cisco TAC Support
+1 800 553 2447 (toll-free within North America) +1 408 526 7209 (international direct dial)
Additional TAC numbers: Customer Service Contacts
Receiving Security Vulnerability Information from Cisco
There are several ways to stay connected and receive the latest security vulnerability information from Cisco. Customers should review the following table, and subsequent summaries, to determine the appropriate option for them:
Cisco Security Advisories provide information about Critical-, High-, and Medium-severity security vulnerabilities. They are clear signed with the Cisco PSIRT PGP public key and distributed to the external email@example.com mailing list. The Cisco PSIRT may also send Informational advisories to the cust-security-announce mailing list. Informational advisories are used not as a disclosure mechanism for any Cisco vulnerabilities but for sharing information on security incidents that may impact Cisco products and that may be of interest to Cisco customers.
Emails are sent for the initial release of and major revisions to Cisco Security Advisories. A major revision is defined as a significant change to advisory content that could result in the customer addressing the vulnerability differently. Examples of a major advisory change include, but are not limited to, changes to the affected products list, changes in Security Impact Rating (SIR; see the Assessing Security Risk—Common Vulnerability Scoring System and the Security Impact Rating section of this document), and changes in mitigation and/or fix information. If a document undergoes a minor revision, the update will be posted to Cisco.com without an accompanying email. Customers that require automated alerts for minor revisions should subscribe to the Cisco Security Advisory Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed or My Notifications. All Security Advisories on Cisco.com are displayed in chronological order, with the most recent advisories and updates appearing at the top of the page.
To subscribe to the cust-security-announce mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (The content of the message does not matter.) You will receive confirmation, instructions, and a list policy statement.
To unsubscribe from the cust-security-announce mailing list, email email@example.com with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line. (The content of the message does not matter.) You will receive a confirmation notice, to which you need to reply to be unsubscribed. You will not be unsubscribed unless you reply to the confirmation email.
You must send the messages from the account that you want to be subscribed to or unsubscribed from the list.
Customers can also request to be subscribed or unsubscribed to the cust-security-announce mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cisco security vulnerability information is also available via RSS feeds from Cisco.com. These feeds are free and do not require an active Cisco.com registration. For information on how to subscribe to the RSS feeds, visit the Cisco Security RSS Feeds page.
Cisco PSIRT openVuln API
The Cisco PSIRT openVuln application programming interface (API) is a RESTful API that conforms to the representational state transfer (REST) software architectural style and allows customers to obtain Cisco security vulnerability information in different machine-consumable formats. To learn about accessing and using the API, visit the PSIRT page on the Cisco DevNet website.
The My Notifications website allows registered Cisco.com users to subscribe to and receive important Cisco product and technology information, including Cisco Security Advisories. This service provides an improved unified subscription experience, allowing users to choose the timing of notifications as well as the notification delivery method (email or RSS feed). The level of access will be determined by the subscriber's relationship with Cisco.
Creating a Notification
To create a notification, use the following steps:
Commitment to Product Security and Integrity at Cisco
Cisco product development practices specifically prohibit any intentional behaviors or product features that are designed to allow unauthorized device or network access, exposure of sensitive device information, or a bypass of security features or restrictions. These include, but are not limited to:
Undisclosed device access methods or "back doors"
Hardcoded or undocumented account credentials
Covert communication channels
Undocumented traffic diversion
Cisco considers such product behaviors to be serious vulnerabilities. Cisco will address any issues of this nature with the highest priority and encourages all parties to report suspected vulnerabilities to the Cisco PSIRT for immediate investigation. Internal and external reports of these vulnerabilities will be managed and disclosed in accordance with the terms of the Cisco Security Vulnerability Policy.
Figure 1 illustrates the vulnerability life cycle and the Cisco PSIRT disclosure and resolution process at a high level.
Figure 1. Cisco Product Security Incident Response Process
The steps in the process illustrated in Figure 1 are as follows:
Awareness: PSIRT receives notification of a security incident.
Active Management: PSIRT prioritizes and identifies resources.
Software Fixes: PSIRT coordinates the fix and impact assessment.
Customer Notification: PSIRT notifies all customers simultaneously.
The Cisco PSIRT investigates all reports regardless of the Cisco software code version or product life cycle status until the product reaches the Last Day of Support (LDoS). Issues will be prioritized based on the potential severity of the vulnerability and other environmental factors. Ultimately, the resolution of a reported incident may require upgrades to products and cloud-hosted services that are under active support from Cisco. As a best practice, Cisco strongly recommends that customers periodically verify that their products are under active support for access to the latest software updates and other benefits.
Throughout the investigative process, the Cisco PSIRT strives to work collaboratively with the source of the report (incident reporter) to confirm the nature of the vulnerability, gather required technical information, and ascertain appropriate remedial action. When the initial investigation is complete, results will be delivered to the incident reporter along with a plan for resolution and public disclosure. If the incident reporter disagrees with the conclusion, the Cisco PSIRT will make every effort to address those concerns.
In the case of incidents about which an agreement cannot be reached through the normal process, incident reporters may escalate by contacting the Cisco TAC and requesting the director of the global Cisco PSIRT team.
During any investigation, the Cisco PSIRT manages all sensitive information on a highly confidential basis. Internal distribution is limited to those individuals who have a legitimate need to know and can actively assist in the resolution. Similarly, the Cisco PSIRT asks incident reporters to maintain strict confidentiality until complete resolutions are available for customers and have been published by the Cisco PSIRT on the Cisco website through the appropriate coordinated disclosure.
With the agreement of the incident reporter, the Cisco PSIRT may acknowledge the reporter's contribution during the public disclosure of the vulnerability.
Cisco will protect customer-specific data at all times throughout this process. Specifically, Cisco will not share any customer-specific data unless directed to do so by the affected customer, or as required by a legal investigation.
Assessing Security Risk—Common Vulnerability Scoring System and the Security Impact Rating
Cisco uses Version 3.1 of the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) as part of its standard process of evaluating reported potential vulnerabilities in Cisco products and cloud-hosted services. The CVSS model uses three distinct measurements, or scores, that include Base, Temporal, and Environmental calculations. Cisco will provide an evaluation of the Base vulnerability score and, in some instances, the Temporal vulnerability score. End users are encouraged to compute the Environmental score based on their network parameters. The combination of all three scores should be considered the final score, which represents a moment in time and is tailored to a specific environment. Organizations are advised to use this final score to prioritize responses in their own environments.
Note: Cisco began transitioning to CVSS Version 3.1 (CVSSv3.1) in May 2020.
In addition to CVSS scores, Cisco uses the Security Impact Rating (SIR) as a way to categorize vulnerability severity in a simpler manner. The SIR is based on the CVSS Qualitative Severity Rating Scale of the Base score, may be adjusted by PSIRT to account for Cisco-specific variables, and is included in every Cisco Security Advisory. Cisco uses the following guidelines to determine the Cisco Security Advisory type. Security Advisories for Critical, High, and Medium SIRs include fixed software information.
Cisco Security Advisory
Fix information in the Security Advisory and bug.
Detailed fix information for Cisco IOS, IOS XE, NX-OS, Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA), Firepower Threat Defense (FTD), and Firepower Management Center (FMC) Software can be obtained using the Cisco Software Checker.
Issues with a Low SIR are typically published as a bug Release Note Enclosure (RNE) and not as part of a Security Advisory.
Cisco reserves the right to deviate from these guidelines in specific cases if additional factors are not properly captured in the CVSS score.
If there is a security issue with a third-party software component that is used in a Cisco product, Cisco typically uses the CVSS score provided by the third party. In some cases, Cisco may adjust the CVSS score to reflect the impact to the Cisco product.
Note: Cisco is a Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Numbering Authority and will assign CVE IDs to Cisco software vulnerabilities from the MITRE block of IDs assigned to the company for this purpose. Cisco does not assign CVE IDs for reported vulnerabilities until the vulnerabilities have been confirmed by Cisco.
Cisco offers multiple cloud-hosted services that are used by customers but are maintained, patched, and monitored by Cisco.
The Cisco PSIRT responds to vulnerabilities in Cisco cloud-hosted services and works closely with the teams that operate them. These teams ensure that security vulnerabilities are fixed and patches are deployed to all customer instances in a timely manner.
Typically, service-related security events are communicated to customers by the service teams through direct notification or through the service dashboard or portal. In some instances, Cisco may disclose vulnerabilities through Security Advisories for Cisco cloud-hosted services in coordination with the service teams.
In most cases, no user action is required because Cisco regularly patches cloud-hosted services.
Third-Party Software Vulnerabilities
If there is a vulnerability in a third-party software component that is used in a Cisco product, Cisco typically uses the CVSS score provided by the component creator. Cisco may adjust the CVSS score to reflect the impact to Cisco products.
Cisco will consider a third-party vulnerability “high profile” if it meets the following criteria:
The vulnerability exists in a third-party component.
Multiple Cisco products and/or cloud-hosted services are affected.
The CVSS score is 5.0 or above.
The vulnerability has gathered significant public attention.
The vulnerability is likely to have exploits available and is expected to be, or is being, actively exploited.
For high profile, third-party vulnerabilities, Cisco will begin assessing all potentially impacted products and cloud-hosted services that have not reached the LDoS and publish a Security Advisory within 24 hours after Cisco classifies the vulnerability as high profile. All known affected Cisco products and cloud-hosted services will be detailed in an update to the initial Security Advisory that will be published within 7 days of the initial disclosure. A Cisco bug will be created for each vulnerable product so that registered customers can view them using the Cisco Bug Search Toolkit. Third-party vulnerabilities that are not classified as high profile will be disclosed in a Release Note Enclosure.
Cisco Vulnerability Repository
The Cisco Vulnerability Repository (CVR) is a vulnerability search engine for CVEs reported after 2017 that may impact Cisco products. CVR can help customers understand if their Cisco product is affected by a particular third-party software vulnerability. This tool also displays any Cisco Security Advisories associated with a CVE. At this time, CVR provides vulnerability disposition information for a limited set of Cisco products and does not currently include Cisco cloud offers. For help with a product not listed in this tool, please use the Feedback link on the CVR page or contact your support organization.
Vulnerability Exploitability eXchange
Customers may request a Vulnerability Exploitability eXchange (VEX) document for any Cisco-published software bill of materials (SBOM). Cisco will provide the status for the following types of third-party vulnerabilities:
Vulnerabilities found in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)ís Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) Catalog
Vulnerabilities that Cisco has determined to be high-risk
Vulnerabilities whose status has been requested using CVR
Types of Security Publications
In all security publications, Cisco discloses the information required for an end user to assess the impact of a vulnerability and any potential steps needed to protect their environment. Cisco does not provide vulnerability details that could enable someone to craft an exploit. Cisco Security Advisories are point-in-time documents. Information should only be considered up to date as of the time and date of the last publication update as indicated by the "Last Updated" field in the advisory header.
Cisco provides the following types of security-related publications via the Cisco Security portal on Cisco.com.
Cisco Security Advisories
Cisco Security Advisories provide detailed information about security issues that directly involve Cisco products and cloud-hosted services and require an upgrade, fix, or other customer action. Security Advisories are used to disclose vulnerabilities with a Critical, High, or Medium SIR. The Cisco PSIRT only validates the affected and fixed version information documented in the advisory.
All Cisco Security Advisories that disclose vulnerabilities with a Critical, High, or Medium SIR include an option to download Common Security Advisory Framework (CSAF) content. CSAF is an industry standard designed to depict vulnerability information in machine-readable format. This machine-readable content can be used with other tools to automate the process of interpreting data contained in a Security Advisory. CSAF content can be downloaded directly from each Security Advisory. For more information about CSAF, see the preceding link.
The Informational type of Cisco Security Advisories addresses issues that require a response to information discussed in a public forum, such as a blog or discussion list. Informational advisories are normally published if a third party makes a public statement about a Cisco product vulnerability. Informational advisories may also be used to proactively notify customers about a security-related issue that is not a vulnerability.
Cisco Event Responses
Cisco Event Responses provide information about security events that have the potential for widespread impact on customer networks, applications, and devices. Cisco Event Responses contain summary information, threat analysis, and mitigation techniques that feature Cisco products and cloud-hosted services. They are normally published under the following circumstances:
If a significant security vulnerability exists in a vendor's product that could affect a Cisco product due to interoperation with the vendor's product or use of the network as a vector for exploitation
In response to the release of Cisco IOS and IOS XE, Cisco IOS XR, Cisco NX-OS, and Cisco ASA, FTD, and FMC Software bundled publications
Release Note Enclosures
Release Note Enclosures are used to disclose issues with a Low SIR. All Cisco bug IDs that are disclosed by Cisco are available for registered customers to view in the Cisco Bug Search Tool.
If a Cisco Security Advisory references a bug, the bug entry in the Cisco Bug Search Tool will link to the relevant Cisco Security Advisory.
Any Cisco bug that has been evaluated by the Cisco PSIRT includes a "PSIRT Evaluation" section in its Release Note Enclosure. This section includes, where Cisco deems appropriate and relevant, Base and Temporal CVSS scores and a CVE ID. Customers are invited to use this additional information at their discretion and correlate Cisco bugs with industry events. This information is not intended to supplement any standard Cisco warranties applicable to the software as stated in the Cisco End User License Agreement.
Free software updates will not be provided for issues that are disclosed through a Release Note Enclosure. Customers who wish to upgrade to a software version that includes fixes for those issues should contact their normal support channels. Any exception to this policy will be determined solely at the discretion of Cisco.
The following table summarizes the methods used to notify customers about the aforementioned security publications. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis to increase communication for a given document.
Bug Search Tool
Cisco Security Advisory—Critical and High Severity
Cisco Security Advisory—Medium Severity
Cisco Security Advisory—Informational
Cisco Event Response
Release Note Enclosure
If one or more of the following conditions exist, Cisco will publicly disclose Cisco Security Advisories:
The Cisco PSIRT has completed the incident response process and determined that enough software patches or workarounds exist to address the vulnerability, or subsequent public disclosure of code fixes is planned to address high-severity vulnerabilities.
The Cisco PSIRT has observed active exploitation of a vulnerability that could lead to increased risk for Cisco customers. Cisco will accelerate the publication of a security announcement describing the vulnerability that may or may not include a complete set of patches or workarounds.
There is the potential for increased public awareness of a vulnerability affecting Cisco products and/or cloud-hosted services that could lead to increased risk for Cisco customers. Cisco will accelerate the publication of a security announcement describing the vulnerability that may or may not include a complete set of patches or workarounds.
All Cisco security publications are disclosed to customers and the public simultaneously.
When coordinating disclosure with third parties, the Cisco PSIRT will attempt to provide notification of any changes to the Cisco PSIRT public disclosure schedule.
As documented in the Receiving Security Vulnerability Information from Cisco section of this document, Cisco delivers technical security information about software fixes in Cisco products and distributes product updates through several channels. Cisco reserves the right to deviate from this policy on an exception basis to ensure access to Cisco.com for software patch availability.
In direct response to customer feedback, Cisco releases the following bundles of Cisco Security Advisories at 1600 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on a regular schedule twice each year. This schedule applies to the disclosure of vulnerabilities in the following Cisco products and does not apply to the disclosure of vulnerabilities in other Cisco products.
Cisco NX-OS Software
Fourth Wednesday of February and August
Cisco IOS XR Software
Second Wednesday in March and September
Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software
Fourth Wednesday in March and September
All Other Products
Cisco generally discloses Cisco Security Advisories at 1600 GMT on any given Wednesday.
Cisco reserves the right to publish an individual Security Advisory for Cisco IOS and IOS XE Software, Cisco IOS XR Software, or Cisco NX-OS Software or other products outside the published schedule. Conditions under which an out-of-cycle publication may occur include, but are not limited to, the following:
Cisco detects heightened public awareness of a serious vulnerability.
Cisco learns of active exploitation of a vulnerability.
Cisco works with a third-party coordination center to publicly disclose a vulnerability.
Incident Response Eligibility
All customers, regardless of contract status, are eligible to receive support from the Cisco TAC for a known or reasonably suspected security vulnerability in Cisco products and services. For more information about how to contact the Cisco TAC, see the General Security-Related Queries section of this document. Customers who contact the Cisco TAC should reference the URL of the Cisco security publication to assist in connecting with the proper support team.
Customers with paid service contracts for incident response and forensic assistance should request assistance through the contact methods specified in their contract.
Cisco, at its sole discretion, may offer customers additional security services free of charge. Cisco reserves the right to determine the type and degree of free assistance it may offer in connection with any incident and to withdraw from such an incident at any time.
Security Software Updates
The Cisco PSIRT will investigate and disclose vulnerabilities in Cisco products and services from the date of First Commercial Shipment (FCS) to the LDoS. Cisco customers with service contracts that entitle them to regular software updates should obtain security fixes through their usual update channels, generally from the Cisco website for the relevant product. Cisco recommends contacting the Cisco TAC only with specific and imminent problems or questions.
As a special customer service, and to improve the overall security of the internet, Cisco may offer customers free software updates to address high-severity security problems. The decision to provide free software updates is made on a case-by-case basis. Refer to the Cisco security publication for details. Free software updates will typically be limited to Critical- and High-severity vulnerabilities.
If Cisco has offered a free software update to address a specific issue, noncontract customers who are eligible for the update may obtain it by contacting the Cisco TAC using any of the methods described in the General Security-Related Queries section of this document.
Note: To verify their entitlement, individuals who contact the Cisco TAC should have available the URL of the Cisco document that is offering the update.
Customers may only download, install, and expect support for software releases and feature sets for which they have purchased a valid license that is current and active. By installing, downloading, accessing, or otherwise using such software updates, customers agree to follow the terms of the Cisco software license agreement. In most cases, the software update will be a maintenance release to software that was previously purchased. Free security software updates do not entitle customers to a new software license, additional software feature sets, or major revision upgrades.
After End of Sale (EoS), the availability of security fixes for vulnerabilities is defined in the product’s EoS bulletin. (See the End-of-Life Policy for details.) The EoS bulletin may define the Last Day of Support (LDoS) milestone, which identifies the last date that Cisco will investigate and disclose product vulnerabilities.
Once the LDoS has been reached, the Cisco PSIRT will continue to accept vulnerability reports but will not analyze, fix, or disclose potential vulnerabilities. To this end, the Cisco PSIRT will not issue CVEs for issues reported on products that are past the LDoS milestone.
Security Advisory Terms and Conventions
Fixed Release Availability: If a future release date is indicated for software, the date provided represents an estimate based on all information known to Cisco as of the "Last Updated" date at the top of the advisory. Availability dates are subject to change based on a number of factors, including satisfactory testing results and delivery of other priority features and fixes. If no version or date is listed for an affected component (indicated by a blank field and/or an advisory designation of Interim), Cisco is continuing to evaluate the fix and will update the advisory as additional information becomes available. After the advisory is marked Final, customers should refer to the associated Cisco bug(s) for further details.
The designated Security Advisory status indicates the following:
Interim: The Cisco investigation is ongoing. Cisco will issue revisions to the advisory when additional information, including fixed software release data, becomes available.
Final: Cisco has completed its evaluation of the vulnerability described in the advisory. There will be no further updates unless there is a material change in the nature of the vulnerability.
All aspects of this process are subject to change without notice and on a case-by-case basis. No particular level of response is guaranteed for any specific issue or class of issues.
This document is part of the Cisco Security portal. Cisco provides the official information contained on the Cisco Security portal in English only.
This document is provided on an "as is" basis and does not imply any kind of guarantee or warranty, including the warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular use. Your use of the information in the document or materials linked from the document is at your own risk. Cisco reserves the right to change or update this document without notice at any time.