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Security Bulletin: Vulnerability in RC4 stream cipher affects IBM WebSphere MQ (CVE-2015-2808)

Security Bulletin


The RC4 “Bar Mitzvah” Attack for SSL/TLS affects IBM WebSphere MQ.

Vulnerability Details

CVEID: CVE-2015-2808
DESCRIPTION: The RC4 algorithm, as used in the TLS protocol and SSL protocol, could allow a remote attacker to obtain sensitive information. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to remotely expose account credentials without requiring an active man-in-the-middle session. Successful exploitation could allow an attacker to retrieve credit card data or other sensitive information. This vulnerability is commonly referred to as "Bar Mitzvah Attack".
CVSS Base Score: 5
CVSS Temporal Score: See for the current score
CVSS Environmental Score*: Undefined
CVSS Vector: (AV:N/AC:L/Au:N/C:P/I:N/A:N)

Affected Products and Versions

IBM WebSphere MQ v8.0 (maintenance levels prior to

IBM WebSphere MQ v7.5

IBM WebSphere MQ v7.1

IBM WebSphere MQ v7.0.1

IBM WebSphere MQ for HP OpenVMS v6.0

IBM WebSphere MQ for HP NonStop Server v5.3.1

IBM MQ Appliance M2000


IBM WebSphere MQ for OVMS

IBM WebSphere MQ for distributed platforms (server)

Workarounds and Mitigations

All Platforms IBM strongly recommends immediately changing any channel definitions that use any of the following RC4 MQ CipherSpecs to use a stronger encryption algorithm;

  • RC4_SHA_US
  • RC4_MD5_US
  • TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5
  • RC4_56_SHA_EXPORT1024
  • ECDHE_ECDSA_RC4_128_SHA256
  • ECDHE_RSA_RC4_128_SHA256
  • TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA256

Note that IBM might need to deprecate the use of weaker algorithms in response to a security vulnerability, for example MQ CipherSpecs that are not certified as FIPS 140-2 compliant via future product maintenance.

The IBM WebSphere MQ fixpack deprecates the use of a number of CipherSpecs that are considered to be weak, this includes the use of RC4.

Further details on the MQ CipherSpecs that are currently available can be found here.

IBM WebSphere MQ for IBM i
IBM recommends that customers review system value QSSLCSL to prevent the use of the RC4 cipher.

IBM WebSphere MQ for UNIX, Linux, Windows & IBM MQ Appliance M2000

On other distributed platforms, enabling FIPS mode on a queue manager prevents weak ciphers including RC4 from being accepted by inbound connections and also from being used by outbound connections.

You should verify that applying this configuration change does not cause any compatibility issues. Not disabling the RC4 stream cipher exposes you to the attack described above. IBM recommends that you review your entire environment to identify other areas where you have enabled the RC4 stream cipher and take appropriate mitigation and remediation actions.

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Important note

IBM strongly suggests that all System z customers be subscribed to the System z Security Portal to receive the latest critical System z security and integrity service. If you are not subscribed, see the instructions on the System z Security web site. Security and integrity APARs and associated fixes will be posted to this portal. IBM suggests reviewing the CVSS scores and applying all security or integrity fixes as soon as possible to minimize any potential risk.


Related information

IBM Secure Engineering Web Portal
IBM Product Security Incident Response Blog

Change History

23 April 2015 - Original Version Published
29 April 2015 - Add HP OpenVMS and HP NonStop Server to bulletin
14 August 2015 - Add details of Fix Pack
27 November 2015 - Add details of Fix Pack
11 March 2016 - Add details of Fix Pack
13 April 2016 - Corrected availability of 7.5 fix in Fix Pack

*The CVSS Environment Score is customer environment specific and will ultimately impact the Overall CVSS Score. Customers can evaluate the impact of this vulnerability in their environments by accessing the links in the Reference section of this Security Bulletin.


According to the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is an "industry open standard designed to convey vulnerability severity and help to determine urgency and priority of response." IBM PROVIDES THE CVSS SCORES "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. CUSTOMERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF ANY ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL SECURITY VULNERABILITY.

Document information

More support for: WebSphere MQ

Software version: 5.3.1, 6.0, 7.0.1, 7.1, 7.5, 8.0

Operating system(s): AIX, HP-UX, IBM i, Linux, OpenVMS, Solaris, Windows

Software edition: All Editions

Reference #: 1883551

Modified date: 29 April 2015