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CERT(sm) Advisory CA-96.27
Original issue date: December 19, 1996
Last revised: ---

Topic: Vulnerability in HP Software Installation Programs

- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

   The text of this advisory was originally released on October 11, 1996, as, developed by
   AUSCERT. Because of the seriousness of the problem, we are reprinting the
   AUSCERT advisory here with their permission. Only the contact information
   at the end has changed: AUSCERT contact information has been replaced with
   CERT/CC contact information.

   We will update this advisory as we receive additional information.
   Look for it in an "Updates" section at the end of the advisory.

AA-96.04                        AUSCERT Advisory
               Vulnerability in HP Software Installation Programs
                                 11 October 1996

Last Revised:

- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

AUSCERT has received information that there is a vulnerability in the
Hewlett Packard Software Distributor product, SD-UX, used to install,
update, remove and package HP-UX software and patches.  This software is
installed by default under HP-UX 10.x and may have been specifically
installed as additional software under HP-UX 9.x.  Any system with the
SD-UX package installed is vulnerable.

This vulnerability may allow local users to gain root privileges.

Exploit details involving this vulnerability have been made publicly

Vendor patches are being developed, but until they are made available,
AUSCERT recommends that sites take the actions suggested in Section 3.

- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.  Description

    The HP Software Distributor (SD-UX) is a package that provides a user
    interface which can be used to install, update, remove, and package HP-UX
    software and patches.

    The programs supplied with this package create files in an insecure
    manner.  As these programs execute with root privileges, it is possible
    to create or over-write arbitrary files on the system.  The default
    location of the programs supplied by the package is /usr/sbin.

    To determine if you have SD-UX installed on your system, check for
    the presence of the swinstall (and related) files using the
    following command:

        % ls -l /usr/sbin/sw*

    Individual sites are encouraged to check their systems for the SD-UX
    package, and if installed, take the actions recommended in Section 3.

2.  Impact

    Local users may be able to create or over-write arbitrary files on
    the system.  This can be leveraged to gain root privileges.

3.  Workarounds/Solution

    AUSCERT recommends that sites prevent possible exploitation of this
    vulnerability by taking the measures stated in Section 3.1 immediately.

    If software maintenance is required, AUSCERT advises that sites
    use one of the workarounds given in 3.2, preferably that described in
    Section 3.2.1.

    Vendor patches may also address this vulnerability in the
    future (Section 3.3).

3.1 Remove permissions

    Until official patches are available sites are encouraged to completely
    prevent the execution of all vulnerable SD-UX programs by any user
    (including root).

        # chmod 400 /usr/sbin/swinstall
        # chmod 400 /usr/sbin/swmodify

    Note that if only the setuid permissions are removed, it is still
    possible for users to gain the privileges of any user executing
    the SD-UX programs (including root).

3.2 Workarounds

    AUSCERT recommends that if software maintenance is required, sites
    implement one of the following workarounds until official vendor
    patches are made available.

    The workaround described in 3.2.1 is the preferred method of doing
    software maintenance.  If sites are unable to bring their machines
    into single user mode, the workaround given in Section 3.2.2 may be
    more applicable.

3.2.1  Run in single user mode

    If packages must be installed, the machine should be brought into
    single-user mode, execute permissions re-enabled on
        # chmod 700 /usr/sbin/swinstall
        # chmod 700 /usr/sbin/swmodify

    and all symbolic links in /var/tmp and /tmp removed.  The following
    command can be used to remove the symbolic links:
        # find /tmp /var/tmp -type l -ok rm {} \;

    Once this has been completed, any software package maintenance may be
    safely performed.

    The execute permissions on the vulnerable programs must be removed
    before the machine is brought back into multi-user mode.

        # chmod 400 /usr/sbin/swinstall
        # chmod 400 /usr/sbin/swmodify

3.2.2 Change temporary file environment variable

    This workaround should only be used if the SD-UX programs must be used
    while the machine is in multi-user mode.

    The SD-UX programs use a number of temporary files.  The location of
    these files can be configured using the environment variable TMPDIR.
    It is possible to set the environment variable TMPDIR to a non-world
    writable directory.  Having the temporary files created in a non-world
    writable directory prevents the exploitation of the vulnerability
    described in this advisory.

    NOTE:  The environment variable must be set in each login
           session BEFORE any SD-UX programs are used.

    To use this method, the following steps must be taken:

    1) As root, create a non-world writable temporary directory for the
    temporary files used by the SD-UX programs.  The location of these
    temporary files can be configured with the TMPDIR environment variable.
    In this workaround, we have chosen to use the directory
        # mkdir /var/tmp/SD_tmp
        # chmod 700 /var/tmp/SD_tmp

    For this workaround to be effective, sites should ensure that the
    parent directory of $TMPDIR has the sticky bit set if the parent
    directory is world writable.  In this workaround, /var/tmp is the
    directory concerned.  The sticky bit on /var/tmp can be set with the
        # chmod 1777 /var/tmp

    In all sessions where software maintenance is performed:

    2) Change permissions on the vulnerable programs:

        # chmod 700 /usr/sbin/swinstall
        # chmod 700 /usr/sbin/swmodify

    3) Set the environment variable TMPDIR:

        (under csh)
        # setenv TMPDIR /var/tmp/SD_tmp

        (under sh)
        # TMPDIR=/var/tmp/SD_tmp; export TMPDIR

       and verify that the directory exists and is writable by root.

        # ls -ld $TMPDIR

     4) Perform any software package maintenance.

     5) Remove the execute permissions on the vulnerable programs:

        # chmod 400 /usr/sbin/swinstall
        # chmod 400 /usr/sbin/swmodify

     6) The environment variable TMPDIR is used by many other programs.
     You should either exit this interactive session, or reset the
     TMPDIR environment variables before continuing.

     NOTE:  Steps 2) through 6) must be repeated each time software
            maintenance is performed.

3.3 Install vendor patches

    Official vendor patches are currently being developed to address the
    vulnerability described in this advisory.  When vendor patches are
    made available, AUSCERT suggests that they be installed.

- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
AUSCERT thanks Information Technology Services of the University of Southern
Queensland, Viviani Paz (The University of Queensland) and Hewlett Packard
for their assistance in this matter.
- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you believe that your system has been compromised, contact the CERT
Coordination Center or your representative in the Forum of Incident
Response and Security Teams (FIRST).

We strongly urge you to encrypt any sensitive information you send by email.
The CERT Coordination Center can support a shared DES key and PGP. Contact
the CERT staff for more information.

Location of CERT PGP key

CERT 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)
                CERT personnel answer 8:30-5:00 p.m. EST
                (GMT-5)/EDT(GMT-4), and are on call for
                emergencies during other hours.

Fax      +1 412-268-6989

Postal address
        CERT Coordination Center
        Software Engineering Institute
        Carnegie Mellon University
        Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890

CERT publications, information about FIRST representatives, and other
security-related information are available for anonymous FTP from

CERT advisories and bulletins are also posted on the USENET newsgroup

To be added to our mailing list for CERT advisories and bulletins, send your
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CERT is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.

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               click on "CERT Advisories"


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