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TUCoPS :: Unix :: General :: ciach023.txt

Sendmail Mime Buffer Overrun Vulnerability



                       The U.S. Department of Energy
                    Computer Incident Advisory Capability
                           ___  __ __    _     ___
                          /       |     /_\   /
                          \___  __|__  /   \  \___

                             INFORMATION BULLETIN

             sendmail MIME Conversion Buffer Overrun Vulnerability

January 23, 1997 16:00 GMT                                         Number H-23
PROBLEM:       Due to insufficient bounds checking while performing limited 7 
               to 8 bit MIME conversions on email messages, it is possible to 
               overwrite the internal stack space of sendmail while it is 
               executing with root privileges. 
PLATFORM:      Sendmail versions 8.8.3 and 8.8.4 
DAMAGE:        Remote users can obtain root access and exploit this vulnerability
    	       regardless of the presence of firewalls or other network
	       boundary protective measures.
SOLUTION:      Upgrade to new version of sendmail (8.8.5) or use workarounds 
               as outlined in Section 3. 
VULNERABILITY  Exploit details involving this vulnerability have been made 
ASSESSMENT:    publicly available. 

[ Start AUSCERT Advisory ]

AA-97.02                        AUSCERT Advisory
              sendmail MIME conversion Buffer Overrun Vulnerability
                                 22 January 1997

Last Revised:	22 January 1997
		Fixed release date.

- - ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
AUSCERT has received information that sendmail Versions 8.8.3 and 8.8.4
contain a serious security vulnerability.  This vulnerability may allow
remote users to execute arbitrary commands with root privileges.  This
vulnerability may be exploited on systems despite the presence of firewalls
or other network boundary protective measures.

AUSCERT recommends that sites take the steps outlined in Section 3
as soon as possible.
- - ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.  Description

    A serious security vulnerability in sendmail Versions 8.8.3 and 8.8.4
    has been discovered that allows remote users to execute arbitrary
    commands with root privileges.  

    As part of its functionality, sendmail is able to perform limited 7
    to 8 bit MIME conversions on email messages.  Due to insufficient
    bounds checking while performing these conversions, it is possible to
    overwrite the internal stack space of sendmail while it is executing
    with root privileges.

    By sending a carefully crafted email message to a system running a
    vulnerable version of sendmail, intruders may be able to force sendmail
    to execute arbitrary commands with root privileges.

    In most cases, the MIME conversion of email is done on final delivery;
    that is, to the local mailbox or a program.  Therefore this
    vulnerability may be exploited on systems despite the presence of
    firewalls and other network boundary protective measures.

    Systems are vulnerable to this attack if both of the following
    conditions are true:

    A.  The version of sendmail is 8.8.3 or 8.8.4.  

	To determine the version of sendmail, use the following command:

		% sendmail -d0 -bt < /dev/null | grep -i Version

	If the string returned is "Version 8.8.3" or "Version 8.8.4", then
	this version of sendmail is vulnerable.

    B.  sendmail is configured to perform 7 to 8 bit MIME conversions.
	sendmail will perform 7 to 8 bit MIME conversions when the '9'
	flag is set as part of any Mailer specification in sendmail's
	configuration file.

	Examine the sendmail configuration file (usually, /etc/
	If the '9' flag is set in the "F=" (Flags) section for any Mailer
	specifications (sections starting with 'M' in the first column,
	such as "Mprog" or "Mlocal"), then this configuration is
	vulnerable.  Use of the '9' flag can usually be determined using
	the following command (depending on your sendmail configuration):

        % grep '^M' /etc/ | grep 'F=[^,]*9'

	If any lines are displayed with this command, then the sendmail
	configuration may be vulnerable.

    The '9' flag is set by default when the file is generated
    using the m4 files distributed with sendmail 8.8.x.  Versions of
    sendmail prior to 8.8.0 did not set this flag by default when
    generating  The '9' flag is also set by default in the
    precompiled example configuration files found in the cf/cf/obj/
    subdirectory of the sendmail Version 8.8.x distribution.

    Although this vulnerability is similar to that described in AUSCERT
    Advisory AA-96.06a, it represents a new problem.

    Versions of sendmail prior to 8.8.3 contain other security
    vulnerabilities.  AUSCERT encourages sites using those versions to
    upgrade to the current version of sendmail.

2.  Impact

    Remote users may gain root privileges on systems using version 8.8.3 or
    8.8.4 of sendmail that performs 7 to 8 bit conversion.  

3.  Workarounds/Solution

    AUSCERT recommends that sites upgrade to the current version of
    sendmail (Section 3.1).  For sites that can not install the current
    version of sendmail, apply the workaround described in Section 3.2.

3.1 Upgrade to the current sendmail version

    Eric Allman has released a new version of sendmail (8.8.5) which fixes
    this vulnerability.  This can be obtained from the following locations:

    The MD5 checksum for this distribution is:

        MD5 (sendmail.8.8.5.tar.gz) = 7c32c42a91325dd00b8518e90c26cffa
	MD5 (sendmail.8.8.5.tar.Z)  = 7b847383899c0eb65987213a5caf89c8
	MD5 (sendmail.8.8.5.patch)  = 775c47d16d40ebd2b917dfcc65d92e90

    The .Z file has the same contents as the .gz file, but is compressed
    using UNIX compress instead of gzip.  A .sig file is also contained
    in the distribution.  This is Eric Allman's PGP signature for the
    uncompressed tar file.  The key fingerprint is

    Type bits/keyID    Date       User ID
    pub  1024/BF7BA421 1995/02/23 Eric P. Allman <eric@CS.Berkeley.EDU>
      Key fingerprint =  C0 28 E6 7B 13 5B 29 02  6F 7E 43 3A 48 4F 45 29
				Eric P. Allman <eric@Reference.COM>
				Eric P. Allman <eric@Usenix.ORG>
				Eric P. Allman <eric@Sendmail.ORG>
				Eric P. Allman <eric@CS.Berkeley.EDU>

    When changing to a new version of sendmail, it is strongly recommended
    that the configuration files are updated with those of the new version.
    Significant work has been done to make this task easier.  (Note it is
    highly likely that older configuration files will not work correctly
    with sendmail version 8.)  It is now possible to build a sendmail
    configuration file ( using the configuration files provided
    with the sendmail release.  Consult the cf/README file for a more
    complete explanation.  Creating your configuration files using this
    method makes it easier to incorporate future changes to sendmail into
    your configuration files.

3.2 Workaround for existing sendmail Version 8.8.3 and 8.8.4 installations.

    Eric Allman, the author of sendmail, has provided the following

    Since the vulnerability occurs in the 7 to 8 bit conversion code, the
    problem described in this advisory can be avoided by disabling this
    functionality.  This can be done by removing the F=9 flag from all
    Mailer specifications in the file.

    For example, a file with these changes applied should look
    similar to (depending on your system and configuration):

Mlocal,    P=/usr/libexec/mail.local, F=lsDFMAw5:/|@qrmn, S=10/30, R=20/40,
           A=mail -d $u
Mprog,     P=/bin/sh, F=lsDFMoqeu, S=10/30, R=20/40,
           A=sh -c $u

    This can be achieved for the "Mlocal" and "Mprog" Mailers by modifying
    the ".mc" file to include the following lines:

				`translit(LOCAL_MAILER_FLAGS, `9')',
				`translit(LOCAL_SHELL_FLAGS, `9')',

    and then rebuilding the file using m4(1).

    The defines of LOCAL_MAILER_FLAGS and LOCAL_SHELL_FLAGS should be
    placed in your m4(1) input file *after* the operating system is
    identified using the OSTYPE directive, and after any other defines of

    It is possible to directly edit the file to resolve this
    vulnerability.  However, caution must be taken to ensure that the file is not replaced in the future with a new version
    rebuilt from configuration files that include the '9' flag.

    Once the configuration file has been modified, all running versions
    of sendmail should be killed and the sendmail daemon restarted:

    	kill -1 `head -1 /var/run/`

    (The pathname may be different on your system.)  Verify that a new
    daemon was started using "(echo quit; sleep 1) | telnet localhost 25".
    Alternatively, reboot your system.

[ End AUSCERT Advisory ]

CIAC wishes to acknowledge the contributions of AUSCERT, Eric Allman, DFN-CERT,
and CERT/CC for the information contained in this bulletin.

CIAC, the Computer Incident Advisory Capability, is the computer
security incident response team for the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) and the emergency backup response team for the National
Institutes of Health (NIH). CIAC is located at the Lawrence Livermore
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