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TUCoPS :: Unix :: General :: ciaci069.txt

Buffer Overflow Pop Servers



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

                             INFORMATION BULLETIN

                      Buffer overflows in some POP servers

July 14, 1998 21:00 GMT                                           Number I-069
PROBLEM:       A buffer overflow vulnerability has been identified in some POP
               servers based on QUALCOMM's qpopper. Qpopper is a Post Office
               Protocol (POP) server used for downloading Internet e-mail.
PLATFORM:      Versions of QUALCOMM qpopper prior to 2.5.
               Some Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. systems are vulnerable.
DAMAGE:        If exploited remote users may gain root access.
SOLUTION:      Apply patches or disable the POP server.
VULNERABILITY  Information about this vulnerability has been posted to various
ASSESSMENT:    mailing lists and newsgroups. It has been reported that this
               vulnerability has been exploited to gain root access.

[  Start CERT Advisory  ]

CERT* Advisory CA-98.08
Original issue date: July 14, 1998

Topic: Buffer overflows in some POP servers

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

The CERT Coordination Center has received reports of buffer overflows
in some Post Office Protocol (POP) servers. For a list of vulnerable
versions and platforms, please refer to Appendix A. For help in
determining which version you are currently running, see Section III.A

The CERT/CC team recommends that anyone running a vulnerable version of this
software upgrade to the current vendor-recommended version. Until you can do
so, we suggest disabling the POP server.

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

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

I.  Description

The CERT Coordination Center has received reports of buffer overflow
vulnerabilities in some POP servers based on QUALCOMM's
qpopper. Qpopper is a Post Office Protocol (POP) server used for
downloading Internet e-mail.

Information about this vulnerability has been posted to various
mailing lists and newsgroups, and the CERT Coordination Center has
received reports of incidents in which this vulnerability has been
exploited to gain privileged access.

II. Impact

Remote users can gain privileged (root) access to systems running
vulnerable versions of POP servers.

III. Solution

     If you determine that your POP server is vulnerable (Sec. A),
     install a patch from your vendor. Until you can do so, we urge you to
     disable the POP server.

     A. Determine if your version of the POP server is vulnerable.

         To determine if a system is vulnerable, first telnet to port 110 on
         that host. If it is running a POP server, the banner will show the
         version. For example:

               % telnet 110
               Connected to mailhost
               +OK QPOP (version 2.4) at starting

         In the above example, the POP server is QUALCOMM's QPopper,
         version 2.4, which is known to be a vulnerable version.

         Check Appendix A to see if your vendor has identified other POP
         server versions that are vulnerable. If you do not see your vendor's
         name, please contact the vendor directly.

     B. Install a patch for this problem.

         Appendix A contains input from vendors who have provided information
         for this advisory.

     C. Workaround

         If you are unable to upgrade to a version that is not vulnerable,
         we urge you to disable the POP server until you are able to address
         the problem. (This will, of course, mean that the functionality
         provided by the POP server will not be available.)


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.

Data General
- -------------
Data General does not ship qpopper, or any other POP client or server.

- --------
The vulnerability described in this advisory is currently being

- --------
OpenBSD does not ship qpopper.

QUALCOMM Incorporated
- ----------------------
Versions of QUALCOMM qpopper prior to 2.5 are vulnerable.
QUALCOMM recommends upgrading to the most recent version
(currently Version 2.52). Patches are available from

Further details, questions and comments should be sent to

Santa Cruz Operation, Inc.
- ---------------------------
Some SCO Operating systems are vulnerable. Patches are currently
being developed and should be available soon.

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

The CERT Coordination Center thanks Travis Mikalson at TerraNovaNet,
Inc., for reporting the vulnerability, and Laurence Lundblade at
QUALCOMM Incorporated for providing technical details and support in the
development of the advisory. We also acknowledge other members of the
Internet community who posted about this problem.

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

[  End CERT Advisory  ]

CIAC wishes to acknowledge the contributions of CERT 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
National Laboratory in Livermore, California. CIAC is also a founding
member of FIRST, the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams, a
global organization established to foster cooperation and coordination
among computer security teams worldwide.

CIAC services are available to DOE, DOE contractors, and the NIH. CIAC
can be contacted at:
    Voice:    +1 925-422-8193
    FAX:      +1 925-423-8002
    STU-III:  +1 925-423-2604

For emergencies and off-hour assistance, DOE, DOE contractor sites,
and the NIH may contact CIAC 24-hours a day. During off hours (5PM -
8AM PST), call the CIAC voice number 925-422-8193 and leave a message,
or call 800-759-7243 (800-SKY-PAGE) to send a Sky Page. CIAC has two
Sky Page PIN numbers, the primary PIN number, 8550070, is for the CIAC
duty person, and the secondary PIN number, 8550074 is for the CIAC
Project Leader.

Previous CIAC notices, anti-virus software, and other information are
available from the CIAC Computer Security Archive.

   World Wide Web:
                        (or -- they're the same machine)
   Anonymous FTP:
                        (or -- they're the same machine)
   Modem access:        +1 (925) 423-4753 (28.8K baud)
                        +1 (925) 423-3331 (28.8K baud)

CIAC has several self-subscribing mailing lists for electronic
1. CIAC-BULLETIN for Advisories, highest priority - time critical
   information and Bulletins, important computer security information;
2. SPI-ANNOUNCE for official news about Security Profile Inspector
   (SPI) software updates, new features, distribution and
3. SPI-NOTES, for discussion of problems and solutions regarding the
   use of SPI products.

Our mailing lists are managed by a public domain software package
called Majordomo, which ignores E-mail header subject lines. To
subscribe (add yourself) to one of our mailing lists, send the
following request as the E-mail message body, substituting
ciac-bulletin, spi-announce OR spi-notes for list-name:

E-mail to or
        subscribe list-name
  e.g., subscribe ciac-bulletin

You will receive an acknowledgment email immediately with a confirmation
that you will need to mail back to the addresses above, as per the
instructions in the email.  This is a partial protection to make sure
you are really the one who asked to be signed up for the list in question.

If you include the word 'help' in the body of an email to the above address,
it will also send back an information file on how to subscribe/unsubscribe,
get past issues of CIAC bulletins via email, etc.

PLEASE NOTE: Many users outside of the DOE, ESnet, and NIH computing
communities receive CIAC bulletins.  If you are not part of these
communities, please contact your agency's response team to report
incidents. Your agency's team will coordinate with CIAC. The Forum of
Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) is a world-wide
organization. A list of FIRST member organizations and their
constituencies can be obtained via WWW at

This document was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an
agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States
Government nor the University of California nor any of their
employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any
legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or
usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process
disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately
owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial products,
process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or
otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement,
recommendation or favoring by the United States Government or the
University of California. The views and opinions of authors expressed
herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States
Government or the University of California, and shall not be used for
advertising or product endorsement purposes.

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