Akira Ransomware Actively Exploiting Cisco Anyconnect Vulnerability

Threat actors exploit Cisco AnyConnect vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to networks, compromise sensitive information, and potentially execute malicious activities. 

Exploiting these vulnerabilities allows attackers to bypass security measures, leading to unauthorized control over network resources, potential disruptions to operations, cyber espionage, data theft, and ransomware deployment.

Cybersecurity analysts at Truesec recently discovered that Akira ransomware is actively exploiting the Cisco Anyconnect vulnerability.

Truesec CSIRT found that Akira Ransomware has been actively exploiting the Cisco ASA and FTD flaw, which was tacked as “CVE-2020-3259,” which allows remote attackers to extract usernames and passwords from affected devices.

Akira Ransomware Exploiting CVE-2020-3259

Truesec’s analysis of eight recent Akira ransomware incidents links Cisco AnyConnect SSL VPN as the entry point. 

Six compromised devices ran vulnerable software, while data on the other two was inconclusive for CVE-2020-3259 susceptibility.

To exploit this vulnerability, the device must have AnyConnect SSL VPN enabled on the interface exposed to the attacker, typically the internet-facing firewall interface.

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Besides this, the following configuration should be in place:-

Cisco devices and the configurations enabling the vulnerability CVE-2020-3259 (Source – Truesec)
Software versions vulnerable to CVE-2020-3259 and fixed releases for Cisco ASA devices (Source – Truesec)
Software versions vulnerable to CVE-2020-3259 and fixed releases for Cisco FTD devices (Source – Truesec)

Positive Technologies discovered CVE-2020-3259 in May 2020 but faced US sanctions in April 2021 for alleged ties to Russian Intelligence. 

Akira was linked to the defunct Conti ransomware syndicate and may exploit the vulnerability. 

However, Truesec doesn’t directly tie Akira’s actions to Russian intelligence, as they warn of potential risks to Western defenses from shared offensive security research.


For organizations running Cisco Anyconnect, it’s crucial to track when your device was updated post-CVE-2020-3259 disclosure. 

Even if patched, the exploit indicators suggest potential prior exploitation. If the upgrade was 6 months old,, assume that the usernames/passwords used during that time were compromised. 

So, in that case, it’s strongly recommended to reset passwords and change any other device secrets immediately.

Here below, we have mentioned all the other recommendations provided by the security experts:-

  • Enable MFA everywhere possible and prioritize Client VPN connections.
  • Enforce password changes post-version upgrade, especially for untouched accounts.
  • Update secrets and pre-shared keys in device configurations post-version upgrade.
  • Patch to a secure version if not already completed.
  • Confirm logging is active across all systems.

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Tushar Subhra Dutta

Tushar is a Cyber security content editor with a passion for creating captivating and informative content. With years of experience under his belt in Cyber Security, he is covering Cyber Security News, technology and other news.

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