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Subject: CERT Advisory CA-2003-07 Remote Buffer Overflow in Sendmail
From: CERT Advisory <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 13:06:21 -0500


CERT Advisory CA-2003-07 Remote Buffer Overflow in Sendmail

   Original release date: March 3, 2003
   Last revised: --
   Source: CERT/CC

   A complete revision history can be found at the end of this file.

Systems Affected

     * Sendmail Pro (all versions)
     * Sendmail Switch 2.1 prior to 2.1.5
     * Sendmail Switch 2.2 prior to 2.2.5
     * Sendmail Switch 3.0 prior to 3.0.3
     * Sendmail for NT 2.X prior to 2.6.2
     * Sendmail for NT 3.0 prior to 3.0.3
     * Systems  running  open-source  sendmail  versions prior to 8.12.8,
       including UNIX and Linux systems


   There  is  a vulnerability in sendmail that may allow remote attackers
   to gain the privileges of the sendmail daemon, typically root.

I. Description

   Researchers  at  Internet  Security  Systems  (ISS)  have discovered a
   remotely  exploitable  vulnerability  in  sendmail. This vulnerability
   could  allow  an  intruder  to  gain  control of a vulnerable sendmail

   Most  organizations  have  a variety of mail transfer agents (MTAs) at
   various  locations  within their network, with at least one exposed to
   the   Internet.   Since   sendmail  is  the  most  popular  MTA,  most
   medium-sized  to  large  organizations are likely to have at least one
   vulnerable   sendmail   server.  In  addition,  many  UNIX  and  Linux
   workstations  provide  a  sendmail  implementation that is enabled and
   running by default.

   This    vulnerability    is    message-oriented    as    opposed    to
   connection-oriented. That means that the vulnerability is triggered by
   the  contents  of  a  specially-crafted  email  message rather than by
   lower-level  network  traffic.  This  is important because an MTA that
   does  not  contain  the  vulnerability will pass the malicious message
   along  to  other  MTAs  that may be protected at the network level. In
   other  words, vulnerable sendmail servers on the interior of a network
   are  still  at risk, even if the site's border MTA uses software other
   than sendmail. Also, messages capable of exploiting this vulnerability
   may pass undetected through many common packet filters or firewalls.

   Sendmail has indicated to the CERT/CC that this vulnerability has been
   successfully  exploited in a laboratory environment. We do not believe
   that   this   exploit  is  available  to  the  public.  However,  this
   vulnerability  is  likely  to  draw  significant  attention  from  the
   intruder community, so the probability of a public exploit is high.

   A  successful  attack  against  an  unpatched sendmail system will not
   leave any messages in the system log. However, on a patched system, an
   attempt  to  exploit  this  vulnerability will leave the following log

     Dropped invalid comments from header address

   Although  this does not represent conclusive evidence of an attack, it
   may be useful as an indicator.

   A  patched  sendmail server will drop invalid headers, thus preventing
   downstream servers from receiving them.

   The CERT/CC is tracking this issue as VU#398025. This reference number
   corresponds to CVE candidate CAN-2002-1337.

   For more information, please see

II. Impact

   Successful exploitation of this vulnerability may allow an attacker to
   gain  the  privileges  of  the  sendmail  daemon, typically root. Even
   vulnerable  sendmail servers on the interior of a given network may be
   at  risk  since  the vulnerability is triggered from the contents of a
   malicious email message.

III. Solution

Apply a patch from Sendmail

   Sendmail  has produced patches for versions 8.9, 8.10, 8.11, and 8.12.
   However,  the  vulnerability  also  exists  in earlier versions of the
   code;  therefore,  site  administrators  using  an earlier version are
   encouraged to upgrade to 8.12.8. These patches are located at

Apply a patch from your vendor

   Many  vendors  include  vulnerable  sendmail  servers as part of their
   software distributions. We have notified vendors of this vulnerability
   and  recorded  their  responses  in  the  systems  affected section of
   VU#398025.  Several  vendors  have  provided  a  statement  for direct
   inclusion in this advisory; these statements are available in Appendix

Enable the RunAsUser option

   There is no known workaround for this vulnerability. Until a patch can
   be  applied,  you  may  wish to set the RunAsUser option to reduce the
   impact  of this vulnerability. As a good general practice, the CERT/CC
   recommends  limiting  the  privileges  of  an  application  or service
   whenever possible.

Appendix A. - Vendor Information

   This  appendix  contains  information  provided  by  vendors  for this
   advisory.  As  vendors  report new information to the CERT/CC, we will
   update this section and note the changes in our revision history. If a
   particular  vendor  is  not  listed  below, we have not received their

Apple Computer, Inc.

   Security  Update  2003-03-03  is available to fix this issue. Packages
   are  available  for  Mac OS X 10.1.5 and Mac OS X 10.2.4. It should be
   noted  that  sendmail  is  not enabled by default on Mac OS X, so only
   those  systems which have explicitly enabled it are susceptible to the
   vulnerability.  All  customers of Mac OS X, however, are encouraged to
   apply this update to their systems.

Avaya, Inc.

   Avaya  is  aware  of the vulnerability and is investigating impact. As
   new information is available this statement will be updated.


   Wind  River  Systems  has  created  patches for this problem which are
   available  from  the  normal  locations for each release. The relevant
   patches are M500-006 for BSD/OS version 5.0 or the Wind River Platform
   for  Server Appliances 1.0, M431-002 for BSD/OS 4.3.1, or M420-032 for
   BSD/OS 4.2 systems.

Cisco Systems

   Cisco is investigating this issue. If we determine any of our products
   are    vulnerable    that    information   will   be   available   at:

Cray Inc.

   The  code  supplied  by Cray, Inc. in Unicos, Unicos/mk, and Unicos/mp
   may  be  vulnerable.  Cray  has  opened  SPRs  724749  and  724750  to

   Cray, Inc. is not vulnerable for the MTA systems.

Hewlett-Packard Company

            Hewlett-Packard Company
            HP Services
            Software Security Response Team
   x-ref:  SSRT3469 sendmail
   HP will provide notice of the availability of patches through standard
   security bulletin announcements and be available from your normal HP
   Services support channel.

IBM Corporation

   The  AIX  operating  system  is  vulnerable  to  the  sendmail  issues
   discussed in releases 4.3.3, 5.1.0 and 5.2.0.

   A  temporary  patch  is available through an efix package which can be
   found at

   IBM will provide the following official fixes:

          APAR   number   for   AIX  4.3.3:  IY40500  (available  approx.
          APAR   number   for   AIX  5.1.0:  IY40501  (available  approx.
          APAR   number   for   AIX  5.2.0:  IY40502  (available  approx.

Openwall GNU/*/Linux

   Openwall GNU/*/Linux is not vulnerable. We use Postfix as the MTA, not

Red Hat Inc.

   Updated  sendmail  packages  that are not vulnerable to this issue are
   available  for  Red  Hat  Linux,  Red Hat Advanced Server, and Red Hat
   Advanced  Workstation.  Red Hat Network users can update their systems
   using the 'up2date' tool.

   Red Hat Linux:

   Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, Advanced Workstation:


   SGI  acknowledges  VU#398025  reported  by  CERT  and  has released an
   advisory to address the vulnerability on IRIX.

   Refer   to   SGI   Security   Advisory  20030301-01-P  available  from

The Sendmail Consortium

   The  Sendmail  Consortium  suggests  that  sites  upgrade to 8.12.8 if
   possible.  Alternatively,  patches  are available for 8.9, 8.10, 8.11,
   and 8.12 on

Sendmail, Inc.

   All  commercial  releases including Sendmail Switch, Sendmail Advanced
   Message  Server (which includes the Sendmail Switch MTA), Sendmail for
   NT,  and Sendmail Pro are affected by this issue. Patch information is
   available at

   Our  thanks  to  Internet  Security Systems, Inc. for discovering this
   problem,  and  to  Eric  Allman,  Claus  Assmann,  and Greg Shapiro of
   Sendmail  for  notifying  us of this problem. We thank both groups for
   their assistance in coordinating the response to this problem.

   Authors: Jeffrey P. Lanza and Shawn V. Hernan

   This document is available from:

CERT/CC Contact Information

   Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
          Phone: +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
          Fax: +1 412-268-6989
          Postal address:
          CERT Coordination Center
          Software Engineering Institute
          Carnegie Mellon University
          Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890

   CERT/CC   personnel   answer  the  hotline  08:00-17:00  EST(GMT-5)  /
   EDT(GMT-4)  Monday  through  Friday;  they are on call for emergencies
   during other hours, on U.S. holidays, and on weekends.

Using encryption

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   Our public PGP key is available from

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   Revision History
Mar 03, 2003:  Initial release

Version: PGP 6.5.8


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