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TUCoPS :: Unix :: General :: ciach034.txt

Innd Vulnerability



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

                             INFORMATION BULLETIN

                             Vulnerability in innd

February 21, 1997 00:00 GMT                                      Number H-34a
PROBLEM:       A vulnerability exists in all versions of INN (InterNetNews
               server) up to and including version 1.5.
PLATFORM:      Systems using any of the listed vendors may be vulnerable.
                 Berkeley Software Design, Inc. (BSDI)
                 Cray Research - A Silicon Graphics Company
                 Debian Linux
                 Red Hat
DAMAGE:        Remote users may run local commands on the server. 
SOLUTION:      Upgrade to INN 1.5.1. Until you can do so, install available
VULNERABILITY  Exploit details involving this vulnerability have been made
ASSESSMENT:    publicly available.

[ Start CERT Advisory ]

CERT(sm) Advisory CA-97.08
Original issue date: February 20, 1997
Last revised: --
Topic: Vulnerability in innd
- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The CERT Coordination Center has received reports that a vulnerability exists
in all versions of INN (InterNetNews server) up to and including version 1.5.
This vulnerability allows unauthorized users to execute arbitrary commands on
the machine running INN by sending a maliciously formed news control message.
Because the problem is with the content of news control messages, attacks can
be launched remotely and may reach news servers located behind Internet

The CERT/CC recommends that sites upgrade to INN 1.5.1. Until you can do so,
we urge you to apply the patch described in Sec. III.B. Information about
this vulnerability has been widely distributed.

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 INN daemon (innd) processes "newgroup" and "rmgroup" control
      Messages in a shell script (parsecontrol) that uses the shell's "eval"
      command.  However, some of the information passed to eval comes from
      the message without adequate checks for characters that are special to
      the shell.

      This permits anyone who can send messages to an INN server - almost
      anyone with Usenet access - to execute arbitrary commands on that
      server. These commands run with the uid and privileges of the "innd"
      process on that server. Because such messages are usually passed
      through Internet firewalls to a site's news server, servers behind such
      firewalls are vulnerable to attack. Also, the program executes these
      commands before checking whether the sender is authorized to create or
      remove newsgroups, so checks at that level (such as running pgpverify)
      do not prevent this problem.

      All versions of INN through 1.5 are vulnerable. You can determine which
      version of INN your site is running by connecting to the NNTP port
      (119) of your news server. For example:

          % telnet 119
          Connected to
          Escape character is '^]'.
          200 InterNetNews server INN 1.4unoff4 05-Mar-96

        Type "quit" to exit the connection. Note that this does not indicate
        whether or not the patch recommended below has been installed.

II.  Impact

     Remote, unauthorized users can execute arbitrary commands on the
     system with the same privileges as the innd (INN daemon) process.

III. Solution
     Upgrade to INN 1.5.1. Until you can do so, install the patches available
     from James Brister or get help from your vendor, if it is available.

     A. Upgrade to INN 1.5.1

        The current version of INN is 1.5.1, which does not have this
        vulnerability. Archive sites for INN version 1.5.1 along with
        additional information about INN are given at


        The MD5 checksum for the gzip'ed tar file is

                MD5 (inn-1.5.1.tar.gz) = 555d50c42ba08ece16c6cdfa392e0ca4

     B. Install patches

        Until you are able to upgrade to INN 1.5.1, we recommend installing
        the following patches, which have been made available by James
        Brister, the current maintainer of INN.

        For releases inn1.4unoff3, inn1.4unoff4, and inn1.5 (all versions),
        apply "security-patch.01" at

           MD5 (security-patch.01) = 06131a3d1f4cf19d7d1e664c10306fa8

        For release 1.4sec, Brister recommends upgrading to a newer version,
        but he has made the patch "security-patch.02" available at

           MD5 (security-patch.02) = 3a964ba0b2b2baf678ef554c67bb28f2

     C. Consult your vendor

        Below is a list of vendors who have provided information about this
        problem. Details are in Appendix A of this advisory; we will update
        the appendix as we receive more information. If your vendor's name is
        not on this list, the CERT/CC did not hear from that vendor. Please
        contact your vendor directly.

           Berkeley Software Design, Inc. (BSDI)
           Cray Research - A Silicon Graphics Company
           Debian Linux
           Red Hat
- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

Berkeley Software Design, Inc. (BSDI)
        We ship INN as part of our distribution.  BSD/OS 2.1 includes INN
        1.4sec and 2.1 users should apply the patch referenced in the
        advisory.  BSD/OS 3.0 includes INN 1.4unoff4 and the patch for that
        version is already included so BSD/OS 3.0 is not vulnerable as

        An upgrade package for Caldera OpenLinux Base 1.0 will appear at
        Caldera's site:

        MD5 sum is:

        3bcd3120b93f41577d3246f3e9276098  inn-1.5.1-2.i386.rpm

Cray Research - A Silicon Graphics Company
        Cray Research has never shipped any news server with Unicos.

Debian Linux
        The current version of INN shipped with Debian is 1.4unoff4. However
        the "unstable" (or development) tree contains inn-1.5.1. It can be
        gotten from any debian mirror in the subdirectory


d3603d9617fbf894a3743a330544b62e 591154 news optional inn_1.5.1-1_i386.deb
205850779d2820f03f2438d063e1dc51 45230 news optional inn-dev_1.5.1-1_i386.deb
badbe8431479427a4a4de8ebd6e1e150 31682 news optional inewsinn_1.5.1-1_i386

Red Hat
        All users of Red Hat 4.0 and Red Hat 4.1 are urged to upgrade to the
        inn-1.5.1-3 package available from The same package
        will work on both 4.0 and 4.1 systems, and is available from in /updates/4.0 and /updates/4.1. Users with direct
        Internet connections can upgrade with one of the following commands:

        rpm -Uvh

        alpha (note the --ignorearch is only needed for Red Hat 4.0/AXP users):
        rpm -Uvh --ignorearch \

        rpm -Uvh

        All of these packages have been signed with Red Hat's PGP key, which is
        availble on all Red Hat CDROMs,, and public keyservers.

[ End CERT Advisory ]


CIAC wishes to acknowledge the contributions of CERT, James Brister of the
Internet Software Consortium, Matt Power of MIT, Erik Troan of Red Hat &
AUSCERT for the information contained in this bulletin.

CIAC, the Computer Incident Advisory Capability, is the computer
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