SFTPPlus is not affected by the Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

Wed 21 February 2018 | article security Written by Adi Roiban

Meltdown and Spectre are vulnerabilities based on CPU design flaws which require the attacker to be able to execute application code which is created to exploit these vulnerabilities.

SFTPPlus secure file transfers does not allow any arbitrary application code execution. It will only read and write data without executing it. This is standard behaviour for doing file transfers over FTPS or HTTPS.

The SSH implementation of SFTPPlus is only allowed for the SFTP and SCP protocols. Shell access or any other SSH execution is denied. The SCP protocol is implemented using an embedded SCP protocol and no external scp application is called.

For the purpose of managed file transfers, SFTPPlus allows the execution of pre-configured application code with the pre and post transfer hooks. As long as the SFTPPlus is configured with trusted applications, this does not constitute an attack vector.

If you are running SFTPPlus Itanium architectures, for example with HPUX, you are not affected by these vulnerabilities, no mater what other software is in used on those systems.

SPARC architecture (example with Solaris 10) and POWER (example with AIX 7.1) are affected by the Spectre, while not being affected by Meltdown.

The embedded devices based on ARM64 CPUs are also affected by Spectre.

Administrators using the SFTPPlus MFT Client with pre and post transfer hooks should review the configuration and make sure that the hooks will trigger calls to trusted applications.