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TUCoPS :: Unix :: General :: ca-9802.txt

CERT Advisory 98-02 CDE Vulnerabilties

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CERT* Advisory CA-98.02
Original issue date: Jan. 21, 1998
Last revised: June 18, 1998
              Minor editorial changes.

              A complete revision history is at the end of this file.

Topic: Vulnerabilities in CDE
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The CERT Coordination Center has received reports of several vulnerabilities
in some implementations of the Common Desktop Environment (CDE). The root
cause of these vulnerabilities is that the dtappgather program does not
adequately check all information passed to it by users. As a result, it is
possible for a local user to gain unauthorized privileged access or cause a
denial of service on the system.

We recommend installing a vendor patch as soon as possible. Until you can do
so, we encourage you to disable vulnerable copies of the program. Section
III.A. of this advisory contains information on checking for potentially
vulnerable copies and disabling them. Section III.B and the appendix contain
vendor information.

We will update this advisory as we receive additional information.  Please
check our advisory files regularly for updates that relate to your site.

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I.   Description

     There are several vulnerabilities in some implementations of the Common
     Desktop Environment (CDE). The root cause of these vulnerabilities is
     that the setuid root program "dtappgather" does not adequately check all
     information passed to it by users. By exploiting these vulnerabilities,
     an attacker can gain either unauthorized privileged access or cause a
     denial of service on the system.

II.  Impact

     Local users are able to gain write access to arbitrary files. This can be
     leveraged to gain privileged access.

     Local users may also be able to remove files from arbitrary directories,
     thus causing a denial of service.

III. Solution

     We recommend installing a vendor patch as soon as possible and disabling
     the vulnerable program until you can do so. Instructions for determining
     whether you have a potentially vulnerable version of this program are
     given in Section A. Vendor patches are discussed in Section B.

     A. How to check for and disable potentially vulnerable versions of

        To find potentially vulnerable versions of dtappgather and to
        disable those programs, use the following find(1) command or a
        variant. Consult your local system documentation to determine how
        to tailor the find(1) program on your system.

        You will need to run the find(1) command on each system you
        maintain because the command examines files on local disks only.
        Substitute the names of your local file systems for
        FILE_SYSTEM_NAMES in the example. Example local file system names
        are /, /usr, and /var. You should do this as root.

        Note that this is one long command, though we have separated
        it onto three lines using backslashes.

             find FILE_SYSTEM_NAMES -xdev -type f -user root \
                    -name 'dtappgather' -perm -04000 -exec ls -l '{}' \; \
                    -ok chmod u-s '{}' \;

        This command will find all files on a system that
            - are only in the file systems you name (FILE_SYSTEM_NAMES -xdev)
            - are regular files (-type f)
            - are owned by root (-user root)
            - have the name "dtappgather" (-name 'dtappgather')
            - are setuid (-perm -04000)

        Once found, those files will
            - have their names and details printed (-exec ls -l '{}')
            - no longer be setuid root, but only if you type `y' in
              response to the prompt (-ok chmod u-s '{}' \;)

        Until you are able to install the appropriate patch, we recommend
        that you remove the setuid bit from the dtappgather program.  Note
        that doing this will affect the functionality of the dtappgather
        program for some users.  For example, newly created users that have
        not logged into the CDE desktop may not have any icons in the
        Application Manager window; existing users may not notice any
        change in functionality.

     B. Obtain and install a patch for this problem.

        If your vendor has a patch for this problem, we encourage you to
        apply the patch as soon as possible.

        Appendix A contains a list of vendors who have provided information
        about this problem. We will update the appendix as we receive more
        information. If you do not see your vendor's name, the CERT/CC did
        not hear from that vendor. Please contact your vendor directly.


Appendix A - Vendor Information

Below is a list of the vendors who have provided information for this
advisory. We will update this appendix as we receive additional information.
If you do not see your vendor's name, the CERT/CC did not hear from that
vendor. Please contact the vendor directly.

Digital Equipment Corporation
- ------------------------------

  At the time of writing this document, patches(binary kits) are in
  progress. Distribution of the fix for this problem is expected to begin
  soon.  Digital will provide notice of the completion/availability of the
  patches through AES services (DIA, DSNlink FLASH) and be available from
  your normal Digital Support channel.

Hewlett-Packard Company
- -----------------------

  This problem is addressed HP Security Bulletin 075. This bulletin can be
  found at one of these URLs:
       (for US, Canada, Asia-Pacific, & Latin-America)
       (for Europe)

  Security Bulletin 075: Security Vulnerability in CDE on HP-UX

  PLATFORM: HP9000 Series 700/800s running CDE on:
          HP-UX 10.10, HP-UX 10.20,
          HP-UX 10.24 (VVOS),
          HP-UX 11.00

  SOLUTION:  Apply one of:
           PHSS_13723  HP-UX 10.10
           PHSS_13724  HP-UX 10.20
           PHSS_13725  HP-UX 10.30
           PHSS_13772  HP-UX 10.24
           PHSS_13406  HP-UX 11.00

IBM Corporation
- ---------------

  The version of dtappgather shipped with AIX is vulnerable.  The
  following fixes are in progress:

  AIX 3.2:  not vulnerable; CDE not shipped in 3.2
  AIX 4.1:  IX73436
  AIX 4.2:  IX73437
  AIX 4.3:  IX73438

  To Order
    APARs may be ordered using Electronic Fix Distribution (via FixDist)
    or from the IBM Support Center.  For more information on FixDist,
    reference URL:

    or send e-mail to with a subject of "FixDist".

  IBM and AIX are registered trademarks of International Business Machines

The Open Group
- --------------

  The Open Group is investigating this vulnerability, and if reproduced
  will develop a solution and provide a patch for its CDE licensees.

Siemens-Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG
- --------------------------------------

  Siemens-Nixdorf provides the TED desktop by TriTeal Corporation as CDE
  product.  TED contains the vulnerable program "dtappgather".  We informed
  TriTeal about this.

  Please note: First level support for the TED desktop is done by
  Siemens-Nixdorf Informationssysteme.

Silicon Graphics, Inc.
- ----------------------

  Silicon Graphics provides only the third party TriTeal CDE product.

  Triteal Corporation provides all support on the SGI offered CDE product.
  Customers requiring support on the SGI CDE product should contact TriTeal
  Corporation at 1-800-874-8325, or email

  For other Silicon Graphics related security information, please see the
  SGI Security Headquarters website located at:

Sun Microsystems, Inc.
- ----------------------

        Sun has released the following patches:

                Patch           CDE version

                105837-01       1.2
                105838-01       1.2_x86
                104498-02       1.02
                104500-02       1.02_x86
                104497-02       1.01
                104499-02       1.01_x86

        The above patches are available at:


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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 (see

CERT/CC Contact Information
- ----------------------------

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

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Copyright 1998 Carnegie Mellon University. Conditions for use, disclaimers,
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*CERT is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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This file:

Revision history

June 18, 1998 Minor editorial changes.

Feb. 12, 1998 Added information for Siemens-Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG.

Jan. 29, 1998 Updated vendor information for Sun.

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