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TUCoPS :: Unix :: General :: cert0136.txt

CERT Advisory CA-97.04 talkd





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=============================================================================
CERT(sm) Advisory CA-97.04
Original issue date: January 27, 1997
Last revised: May 8, 1997
              Appendix A - updated vendor information for Hewlett-Packard.
 
              A complete revision history is at the end of this file.

Topic: talkd Vulnerability
- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The CERT Coordination Center has received reports of a vulnerability in
talkd(8) program used by talk(1). By constructing DNS data with particular
characteristics, an intruder can remotely execute arbitrary commands with root
privileges.

An exploitation script for this problem has been made publicly available,
and we have received reports of successful root compromises involving the use
of this script.

You may be aware of advisories that have been published by other response
teams about this problem. Note that this advisory contains additional material
and covers additional aspects of the vulnerability related to a broader set of
problems of which this particular problem is only a specific instance.

The CERT/CC team recommends taking steps to solve the general problem
(Sec. III.A) and installing a vendor patch to address this particular instance
of the problem (Sec. III.B). Until you can install a patch, we urge you to
disable the talkd program(s) at your site.

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

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

I.   Description

     The CERT Coordination Center has received information of a vulnerability
     in the talkd(8) program used by talk(1). talk is a communication program
     that copies text from one user's terminal to that of another, possibly
     remote, user. talkd is the daemon that notifies a user that someone else
     wishes to initiate a talk conversation.

     As part of the talk connection, talkd does a DNS lookup for the name
     of the host that the connection is being initiated from. Because there
     is insufficient bounds checking on the buffer where the hostname is
     stored, it is possible to overwrite the internal stack space of talkd.

     It is possible to force talkd to execute arbitrary commands by carefully
     manipulating the hostname information. As talkd runs with root
     privileges, this may allow intruders to remotely execute arbitrary
     commands with these privileges.

     This attack requires an intruder to be able to make a network connection
     to a vulnerable talkd program and provide corrupt DNS information to that
     host.

     This type of attack is a particular instance of the problem described in
     CERT advisory CA-96.04, "Corrupt Information from Network Servers,"
     available from

     ftp://info.cert.org/pub/cert_advisories/CA-96.04.corrupt_info_from_servers

     Sites that use BIND 4.9.4 Patch Level 1 or later are NOT vulnerable to
     the general class of hostname/ip-address-based buffer overflow attacks
     (including this specific problem).

     Be aware that there are different versions of the talkd program.
     Depending on your system, the program may have any of the following
     names: talkd, otalkd, ntalkd.

     To determine whether your site allows talk sessions, check
     /etc/inetd.conf:

                # grep -i "^[a-z]*talk" /etc/inetd.conf

     Note: An exploitation script for this problem has been made publicly
           available. The CERT/CC has received reports of successful root
           compromises involving the use of this script.

II.  Impact

     Intruders may be able to remotely execute arbitrary commands with root
     privileges. They do not need access to an account on the system to
     exploit this vulnerability.

III. Solution

     There are several options available to avoid this problem. We recommend
     that all sites defend against the general class of problem (Sec. A) and
     also install a patch from your vendor (Sec. B). Until you can install a
     patch, we urge you to disable the talkd program(s) at your site (Sec C).

     Note that disabling the talkd program will defend against the
     particular attack described in this advisory, but will not defend
     against the general class of network-based attacks that manipulate
     hostname/ip-address information to exploit a vulnerability.


     A. Defend against the general class of problem

        In the general case, the problem described in this advisory is one
        in which the attacker uses particular hostname/ip-address data to
        exploit a vulnerability. The exploitation script mentioned above
        uses the specific case of DNS attacks, but attackers can use other
        hostname/ip-address resolution methods, such as NIS, /etc/hosts,
        and so on.

        If the following measures are in place for all hostname/address
        transformation techniques on your system, then your system would be
        immune not only to this particular talkd exploit, but also to the
        general class of hostname/ip-address-based buffer overflow attacks.

        1. DNS-Based Attacks

        To defend against a DNS-based attack, we encourage you to upgrade to
        BIND 4.9.4 Patch level 1 or later (or your vendor's equivalent). The
        reason is that BIND 4.9.4 Patch Level 1 conforms to the RFC (RFC 952)
        defining valid hostname syntax (described in CERT advisory CA-96.04,
        "Corrupt Information from Network Servers").

        Keep in mind that an upgrade to 4.9.5 may require a sendmail upgrade
        because of the POSIX extensions in the latest version of BIND
        (described in CA-96.04). For the latest available version of sendmail,
        please consult the file

                ftp://info.cert.org/pub/latest_sw_versions/sendmail

        2. Other Network Information Services

        For systems that rely on additional name/address transformation
        techniques (such as NIS, netinfo, and flat files like /etc/hosts),
        using the recommended version of BIND may be insufficient since DNS
        lookups--and therefore hostname/ip-address validation--may be bypassed
        in favor of the alternative technique (NIS, netinfo, etc). Thus, we
        also encourage sites and vendors to include in the suite of resolution
        techniques the same code that BIND uses to validate hostnames and IP
        addresses. This code is described in the next section.

        3. In-house Software

        Use the hostname and IP address validation subroutines available
        at the locations listed below. Include them in all programs that
        use the result of the hostname lookups in any way.

          ftp://info.cert.org/pub/tools/ValidateHostname/IsValid.c
          ftp://ftp.cert.dfn.de/pub/tools/net/ValidateHostname/IsValid.c

        The IsValid.c file contains code for the IsValidHostname and
        IsValidIPAddress subroutines. This code can be used to check host
        names and IP addresses for validity according to RFCs 952 and 1123,
        as well as names containing characters drawn from common practice,
        namely "_" and "/".

        The following files are in the directory (from the README):

        IsValid.l       The lex/flex file containing the code for
                        IsValidHostname and IsValidIPAddress
                        MD5 (IsValid.l) = 2d35040aacae4fb12906eb1b48957776

        IsValid-raw.c   The C file created by running flex
                        on IsValid.l
                        MD5 (IsValid-raw.c) = 367c77d3ef84bc63a5c23d90eeb69330

        IsValid.c       The edited file created by internalizing
                        variable and function definitions in
                        IsValid-raw.c
                        MD5 (IsValid.c) = ffe45f1256210aeb71691f4f7cdad27f

        IsValid.diffs   The set of diffs between IsValid-raw.c
                        and IsValid.c
                        MD5 (IsValid.diffs) = 3619022cf31d735151f8e8c83cce3744

        htest.c         A main routing for testing IsValidHostname
                        and IsValidIPAddress
                        MD5 (htest.c) = 2d50b2bffb537cc4e637dd1f07a187f4


     B. Install a patch from your vendor

        Below is a list of the vendors who have provided information. Details
        are in Appendix A of this advisory; we will update the appendix as we
        receive additional information.

        If your vendor's name is not on this list, we have not received any
        information. Please contact the vendor directly.

           Berkeley Software Design, Inc. (BSDI)
           Cisco Systems
           Data General Corporation
           FreeBSD, Inc.
           Hewlett-Packard Company
           IBM Corporation
           Linux
           NEC Corporation
           The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. (SCO)
           Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI)
           Solbourne (Grumman System Support)
           Sun Microsystems, Inc.

     C. Disable the talkd program(s)

        Until you can install a vendor patch, disable any talkd programs found
        in /etc/inetd.conf by commenting out those lines and restarting inetd.

        Example commands executed as root:

        # grep -i talk /etc/inetd.conf
        talk    dgram   udp     wait    root  /usr/etc/in.talkd     in.talkd

        Comment out *all* references to talkd, otalkd or ntalkd.
        (Comments in /etc/inetd.conf begin with "#".)

        After editing /etc/inetd.conf, restart inetd. On many Unix systems,
        this is done by sending the inetd process a HUP signal.

        For SYSV:

                 # ps -ef | grep inetd | grep -v grep
                 # kill -HUP {inetd PID}

        For BSD:

                # ps -aux | grep inetd | grep -v grep
                # kill -HUP {inetd PID}

     Note that disabling talkd will solve the specific problem discussed in
     this advisory. However it will not solve the general problem of
     network-based attacks that manipulate hostname/ip-address information
     to exploit a vulnerability.


...........................................................................

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, please contact the vendor directly.


Berkeley Software Design, Inc. (BSDI)
=====================================
   We have released an official patch (U210-035). It's available from our
   patches@BSDI.COM mail-back server or via anonymous ftp at:

        ftp://ftp.bsdi.com/bsdi/patches/patches-2.1/U210-035


Cisco Systems
=============
   Cisco MultiNet for OpenVMS - not vulnerable.


Data General Corporation
========================
   Data General is not vulnerable.


FreeBSD, Inc.
=============
   We have released an advisory dated 1997-01-18, FreeBSD-SA-96:21.

  The advisory can be found at:
        ftp://freebsd.org/pub/CERT/advisories/FreeBSD-SA-96:21.talkd.asc

   Patches are available at:
        ftp://freebsd.org/pub/CERT/patches/SA-96:21



Hewlett-Packard Company
=======================
  HPSBUX9704-061
  HEWLETT-PACKARD SECURITY BULLETIN: #00061

  Description: Security Vulnerability in talkd 

  Security Bulletins are available from the HP Electronic 
  Support Center via electronic mail.
 
  User your browser to get to the HP Electronic Support 
  Center page at:
 
           http://us-support.external.hp.com
           (for US, Canada, Asia-Pacific, & Latin-America)
 
           http://europe-support.external.hp.com 
           (for Europe)
 
 

IBM Corporation
===============
   The version of talkd shipped with AIX is vulnerable to the conditions
   described in this advisory.  The APARs listed below will be available
   shortly.  It is recommended that the talkd daemon be turned off until
   the APARs are applied.

    AIX 3.2:   APAR IX65474
    AIX 4.1:   APAR IX65472
    AIX 4.2:   APAR IX65473

  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:

       http://service.software.ibm.com/aixsupport/

    or send e-mail to aixserv@austin.ibm.com with a subject of "FixDist".


   IBM and AIX are registered trademarks of International Business Machines
   Corporation.


Linux
======
   This bug was fixed in Linux NetKit 0.08 which is shipped with all reasonably
   up to date Linux distributions. Linux users using NetKit 0.07 or earlier
   should upgrade to NetKit 0.09. NetKit 0.09 has fixed other bugs and it is
   strongly recommended Linux users upgrade from NetKit 0.08 to NetKit
   0.09. This is available from
      ftp://ftp.uk.linux.org/pub/linux/Networking/base/NetKit-0.09.tar.gz

   Some vendors have opted to issue NetKit 0.08 with additional fixes rather
   than 0.09. Consult your vendor for detailed information.

   The Linux community would like to thank David A Holland for his continuing
   work on Linux network security.


NEC Corporation
===============
        UX/4800             Vulnerable for all versions.
        EWS-UX/V(Rel4.2MP)  Vulnerable for all versions.
        EWS-UX/V(Rel4.2)    Vulnerable for all versions.
        UP-UX/V(Rel4.2MP)   Vulnerable for all versions.

   Patches for these vulnerabilities are in progress.

   Contacts for further information by e-mail:

   UX48-security-support@nec.co.jp


The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. (SCO)
====================================
   SCO is investigating the problem with talkd and will provide updated
   information for this advisory as it becomes available. At this time SCO
   recommends disabling talkd on your SCO system as described herein.


Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI)
===========================
   We are investigating.


Solbourne (Grumman System Support)
==================================
   We have examined the Solbourne implementation and found that
   it is vulnerable. Solbourne distributed the Sun application
   under license. We will distribute a Solbourne patch based
   on the Sun patch when it becomes available. For the latest
   information on our patches go to http://ftp.nts.gssc.com/solbourne.html

   The workaround of disabling in.talkd can be used.
   as root:

        /etc/inetd.conf - comment out the talkd program
        # ps -aux | grep inetd | grep -v grep
        # kill -HUP {inetd PID listed in output of last command}


Sun Microsystems, Inc.
======================
   The talkd buffer overflow vulnerability appears to affect at least
   some supported versions of SunOS. Sun therefore expects to release
   patches for all affected versions of SunOS within the next few
   weeks.


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The CERT Coordination Center thanks AUSCERT for their contribution to this
advisory, including the bulk of the problem description (which appeared in
AUSCERT advisory AA-97.01), and thanks the vendors listed in Appendix A for
their contributions.
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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 ftp://info.cert.org/pub/FIRST/first-contacts).


CERT/CC Contact Information
- ----------------------------
Email    cert@cert.org

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
         USA

Using encryption
   We strongly urge you to encrypt sensitive information sent by email. We can
   support a shared DES key or PGP. Contact the CERT/CC for more information.
   Location of CERT PGP key
         ftp://info.cert.org/pub/CERT_PGP.key

Getting security information
   CERT publications and other security information are available from
        http://www.cert.org/
        ftp://info.cert.org/pub/

   CERT advisories and bulletins are also posted on the USENET newsgroup
        comp.security.announce

   To be added to our mailing list for advisories and bulletins, send your
   email address to
        cert-advisory-request@cert.org

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Copyright 1997 Carnegie Mellon University
This material may be reproduced and distributed without permission provided
it is used for noncommercial purposes and the copyright statement is
included.

CERT is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.
- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

This file: ftp://info.cert.org/pub/cert_advisories/CA-97.04.talkd
           http://www.cert.org
               click on "CERT Advisories"


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Revision history

May 8, 1997   Appendix A - updated patch information for Hewlett-Packard.

Feb. 7, 1997  Appendix A - added an entry for Cisco Systems.

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