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TUCoPS :: Unix :: General :: ciaci091.txt

Stack Overflow Tooltalk Rpc Service


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

                             INFORMATION BULLETIN

                     Stack Overflow in ToolTalk RPC Service

November 20, 1998 17:00 GMT                                      Number I-091
PROBLEM:       A vulnerability has been identified in the ToolTalk object
               database server.
PLATFORM:      UNIX operating systems supporting CDE and some Open Windows
               installs. See vendor list below.
DAMAGE:        If exploited, this vulnerability may allow root access.
SOLUTION:      Apply patches or replace affected software. A temporary
               solution is to disable the ToolTalk database service.
VULNERABILITY  Risk is high. This vulnerability is being actively exploited.

[ Updated on February 19, 1999 with additional patch information from Silicon
  Graphics Inc. ]

[ Start NAI Advisory ]

Stack Overflow in ToolTalk RPC Service

                                                            NAI Advisory 29
                                                   Network Associates, Inc.
                                                          SECURITY ADVISORY
                                                            August 31, 1998

An implementation fault in the ToolTalk object database server allows a
remote attacker to run arbitrary code as the superuser on hosts supporting
the ToolTalk service. The affected program runs on many popular UNIX
operating systems supporting CDE and some Open Windows installs. This
vulnerability is being actively exploited by attackers on the Internet.

Confirmed Vulnerable Operating Systems and Third Party Vendors

Sun Microsystems

     SunOS 5.6, 5.6_x86
     SunOS 5.5.1, 5.5.1_x86
     SunOS 5.5, 5.5_x86
     SunOS 5.4, 5.4_x86
     SunOS 5.3
     SunOS 4.1.
     SunOS 4.1.3_U1

Hewlett Packard

     HP-UX release 10.10
     HP-UX release 10.20
     HP-UX release 10.30
     HP-UX release 11.00


     IRIX 5.3
     IRIX 5.4
     IRIX 6.2
     IRIX 6.3
     IRIX 6.4


     AIX 4.1.X
     AIX 4.2.X
     AIX 4.3.X


     TriTeal CDE - TED versions 4.3 and previous.

Xi Graphics

     Xi Graphics Maximum CDE v1.2.3

It should be noted here that this not an exhaustive list of vulnerable
vendors. These are only the *confirmed vulnerable* vendors. Also, any OS
installation that is not configured to use or start up the ToolTalk service
is not vulnerable to this problem. To determine whether the ToolTalk
database server is running on a host, use the "rpcinfo" command to print a
list of the RPC services running on it, as:

     $ rpcinfo -p hostname

Because many operating systems do not include an entry for the ToolTalk
database service in the RPC mapping table ("/etc/rpc" on most Unix
platforms), the vulnerable service may not appear by name in the listing.
The RPC program number for the ToolTalk database service is 100083. If an
entry exists for this program, such as,

     100083 1 tcp 692

then the service is running on the host. Until additional information is
made available from the OS vendor, it should be assumed that the system is
vulnerable to the attack described in this advisory.


The ToolTalk service allows independently developed applications to
communicate with each other by exchanging ToolTalk messages. Using
ToolTalk, applications can create open protocols which allow different
programs to be interchanged, and new programs to be plugged into the system
with minimal reconfiguration.

The ToolTalk database server (rpc.ttdbserverd) is an ONC RPC service which
manages objects needed for the operation of the ToolTalk service.
ToolTalk-enabled processes communicate with each other using RPC calls to
this program, which runs on each ToolTalk-enabled host. This program is a
standard component of the ToolTalk system, which ships as a standard
component of many commercial Unix operating systems. The ToolTalk database
server runs as root.

Due to an implementation fault in rpc.ttdbserverd, it is possible for a
malicious remote client to formulate an RPC message that will cause the
server to overflow an automatic variable on the stack. By overwriting
activation records stored on the stack, it is possible to force a transfer
of control into arbitrary instructions provided by the attacker in the RPC
message, and thus gain total control of the server process.


Source code and XDR specifications for the ToolTalk database protocol and
server were not available at the time this advisory was drafted. What
follows is information based on analysis of the rpc.ttdbserverd binary and
a captured attack trace from a network on which an exploitation script for
this problem was run.

The observed attack utilized the ToolTalk Database (TTDB) RPC procedure
number 7, with an XDR-encoded string as its sole argument. TTDB procedure 7
corresponds to the _tt_iserase_1() function symbol in the Solaris binary
(/usr/openwin/bin/rpc.ttdbserverd). This function implements an RPC
procedure which takes an ASCII string as an argument, which is treated as a

The pathname string is passed to the function isopen(), which in turn
passes it to _am_open(), then to _amopen(), _openfcb(), _isfcb_open(), and
finally to _open_datfile(), where it, as the first argument to the
function, is passed directly to a strcpy() to a pointer on the stack. If
the pathname string is suitably large, the string overflows the stack
buffer and overwrites an activation record, allowing control to transfer
into instructions stored in the pathname string.


This is an implementation problem and can only be resolved completely by
applying patches to or replacing affected software. As a temporary
workaround, it is possible to eliminate vulnerability to this problem by
disabling the ToolTalk database service. This can be done by killing the
"rpc.ttdbserverd" process and removing it from any OS startup scripts. It
should be noted that this may impair system functionality.

The following vendors have been confirmed vulnerable, contacted, and have
responded with repair information:

Sun Microsystems

Sun plans to release patches this week that relate to the ToolTalk
vulnerability for SunOS 5.6, 5.6_x86, 5.5.1, 5.5.1_x86, 5.5 and 5.5_x86.

Patches for SunOS 5.4, 5.4_x86, 5.3, 4.1.4 and 4.1.3_U1 will be released in
about 4 weeks.

Sun recommended security patches (including checksums) are
available from:

Hewlett Packard

HP-UX has been confirmed vulnerable in releases 10.XX and 11.00. HP has
made patches available with the following identifications:

     HP-UX release 10.10 HP9000 Series 7/800 PHSS_16150
     HP-UX release 10.20 HP9000 Series 7/800 PHSS_16147
     HP-UX release 10.30 HP9000 Series 7/800 PHSS_16151
     HP-UX release 11.00 HP9000 Series 7/800 PHSS_16148


IBM AIX has been confirmed vulnerable. IBM's response is as follows:

The version of ttdbserver shipped with AIX is vulnerable. We are currently
working on the following fixes which will be available soon:

 APAR 4.1.x: IX81440
 APAR 4.2.x: IX81441
 APAR 4.3.x: IX81442

Until the official APARs are available, a temporary fix can be downloaded
via anonymous ftp from:


An official response from TriTeal is as follows:
The ToolTalk vulnerability will be fixed in the TED4.4 release. For earlier
versions of TED, please contact the TriTeal technical support department at or at

Xi Graphics

An official response from Xi Graphics is as follows:
Xi Graphics Maximum CDE v1.2.3 is vulnerable to this attack. A patch to
correct this problem will be placed on our FTP site by 8/28/1998:


Users of Maximum CDE v1.2.3 are urged to install this update.

Silicon Graphics

The Security Labs team at Network Associates has confirmed that SGI IRIX
6.3 is vulnerable to this attack. SGI's security team has been contacted
and informed of the vulnerability. No repair information has been made
available from Silicon Graphics regarding this problem.

Other Vendors

If any uncertainty exists with regards to whether a given vendor not listed
in this advisory is vulnerable to this attack, we recommend contacting them
via their support/security channels for more information.


The NAI Security Labs Team would like to thank the HP & IBM Security
Response Teams, CERT/CC & AUSCERT for their contributions to this advisory.


The Security Labs at Network Associates hosts some of the most important
research in computer security today. With over 28 published security
advisories published in the last 2 years, the Network Associates security
auditing teams have been responsible for the discovery of many of the
Internet's most serious security flaws. This advisory represents our
ongoing commitment to provide critical information to the security

For more information about the Security Labs at Network Associates, see our
website at or contact us at

[ End NAI Advisory ]

[ Start Silicon Graphics Advisory ]


                Silicon Graphics Inc. Security Advisory

        Title:   Vulnerability in ToolTalk RPC Service
        Title:   NAI-29, CERT CA-98.11
        Number:  19981101-01-PX
        Date:    February 19, 1999

Silicon Graphics provides this information freely to the SGI user community
for its consideration, interpretation, implementation and use.   Silicon
Graphics recommends that this information be acted upon as soon as possible.

Silicon Graphics provides the information in this Security Advisory on
an "AS-IS" basis only, and disclaims all warranties with respect thereto,
express, implied or otherwise, including, without limitation, any warranty
of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.  In no event shall
Silicon Graphics be liable for any loss of profits, loss of business, loss
of data or for any indirect, special, exemplary, incidental or consequential
damages of any kind arising from your use of, failure to use or improper
use of any of the instructions or information in this Security Advisory.

- -----------------------
- --- Issue Specifics ---
- -----------------------

The rpc.ttdbserverd(8) service is an RPC based daemon which is called to
service requests for the ToolTalk databases stored on the host.

Unfortunately, a vulnerability in the rpc.ttdbserverd(8) daemon has been
discovered which can lead to a root compromise of the system.

Silicon Graphics Inc. has investigated the issue and recommends the
following steps for neutralizing the exposure.  It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
that these measures be implemented on ALL vulnerable SGI systems.
This issue has been corrected in future releases of IRIX.

- --------------
- --- Impact ---
- --------------

The rpc.ttdbserverd(8) daemon is installed by default on IRIX. ???

A local user account is not needed to exploit the rpc.ttdbserverd(8) daemon.

The vulnerability can be exploited remotely by using carefully crafted RPC
packets that are sent to the rpc.ttdbserverd(8) daemon.

The exploitable stack overflow vulnerability can lead to a root compromise.

This rpc.ttdbserverd(8) daemon stack overflow vulnerability was reported by
NAI Advisory 29 and CERT Advisory CA-98.11.

This rpc.ttdbserverd(8) daemon vulnerability has been publicly discussed in
Usenet newsgroups and mailing lists.

- --------------------------
- --- Temporary Solution ---
- --------------------------

Although patches are available for this issue, it is realized that
there may be situations where installing the patches immediately may
not be possible.

The steps below can be used to disable the ttdbserverd(8) daemon.

      **** WARNING ****

      Disabling ttdbserverd(8) daemon will impact and/or disable
      applications that use the RPC-based ToolTalk database server.
      One such third-party application is the TriTeal CDE product.

     1) Become the root user on the system.

              % /bin/su -

     2) Verify ttdbserverd(8) daemon is enabled.

              # rpcinfo -p | grep 100083
              100083    1   tcp   1028  ttdbserverd

     3) Edit the file /etc/inetd.conf (for IRIX 5.3 and lower,
        edit /usr/etc/inetd.conf).  Place a "#" as the first
        character of the line to comment out and deactivate
        the ttdbserverd daemon.

              # vi  /etc/inetd.conf

        {Find the following line}

              ttdbserverd/1   stream  rpc/tcp wait root \
              ?/usr/etc/rpc.ttdbserverd rpc.ttdbserverd

        {Place a "#" as the first character of the ttdbserverd line}

              #ttdbserverd/1   stream  rpc/tcp wait root \
              ?/usr/etc/rpc.ttdbserverd rpc.ttdbserverd

     4) Force inetd to re-read the configuration file.

              # /etc/killall -HUP inetd

     5) Kill any existing ttdbserverd(8) process.

              # /etc/killall ttdbserverd

      6) Return to previous level.

              # exit

- ----------------
- --- Solution ---
- ----------------

   OS Version     Vulnerable?     Patch #      Other Actions
   ----------     -----------     -------      -------------

   IRIX 3.x         unknown                    Note 1 & 2
   IRIX 4.x         unknown                    Note 1 & 2
   IRIX 5.0.x-5.2   unknown                    Note 1 & 2
   IRIX 5.3          yes           3510        Note 1 & 2
   IRIX 6.0.x       unknown                    Note 1 & 2
   IRIX 6.1         unknown                    Note 1 & 2
   IRIX 6.2          yes           3511        Note 2
   IRIX 6.3          yes           3511        Note 2 & 3
   IRIX 6.4          yes           3511        Note 2 & 3
   IRIX 6.5          yes           3511        Note 2
   IRIX 6.5.1        yes           3511        Note 2 & 4
   IRIX 6.5.2        yes           3511        Note 2 & 4
   IRIX 6.5.3        no


     1) Upgrade to currently supported IRIX operating system.
        See for more information.
     2) See "Temporary Solution" section.
     3) This version of the IRIX operating system is in maintenance mode
        and patches will no longer be produced when it retires. See for more information.
     4) If you have not received an IRIX 6.5.3m CD for IRIX 6.5, contact your
        SGI Support Provider or download the IRIX 6.5.3 Maintenance Release
        Stream from or

Patches are available via anonymous FTP and your service/support provider.

The primary SGI anonymous FTP site for security information and patches
is ( Security information and patches can be
found in the ~ftp/security and ~ftp/patches directories, respectively.

For security and patch management reasons, (mirror of sgigate)
lags behind and does not do a real-time update of ~ftp/security and

                 ##### Patch File Checksums ####

The actual patch will be a tar file containing the following files:

Filename:                 README.patch.3510
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    18621 8 README.patch.3510
Algorithm #2 (sum):       44666 8 README.patch.3510
MD5 checksum:             4B4385225DD2B2EABD7A0C4B60F5009D

Filename:                 patchSG0003510
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    03265 1 patchSG0003510
Algorithm #2 (sum):       29249 1 patchSG0003510
MD5 checksum:             D185F8A457F0BF6B01334861404715B7

Filename:                 patchSG0003510.idb
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    53417 1 patchSG0003510.idb
Algorithm #2 (sum):       36974 1 patchSG0003510.idb
MD5 checksum:             E4340D6B09805EDB36DC90CF7A4EACE2

Filename:                 patchSG0003510.sw
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    36411 344 patchSG0003510.sw
Algorithm #2 (sum):       28013 344 patchSG0003510.sw
MD5 checksum:             C3F37AF4BCD55BFE2AB14C8235139921

Filename:                 README.patch.3511
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    37150 8 README.patch.3511
Algorithm #2 (sum):       48409 8 README.patch.3511
MD5 checksum:             582BED4D899C553F5B278348EF519214

Filename:                 patchSG0003511
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    40672 2 patchSG0003511
Algorithm #2 (sum):       54170 2 patchSG0003511
MD5 checksum:             F42EF845B4915F3B76F7CFBCDB946B37

Filename:                 patchSG0003511.ToolTalk_man
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    10831 6 patchSG0003511.ToolTalk_man
Algorithm #2 (sum):       19356 6 patchSG0003511.ToolTalk_man
MD5 checksum:             0DBCB57A06917234FBA12BE321306801

Filename:                 patchSG0003511.ToolTalk_sw
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    12043 322 patchSG0003511.ToolTalk_sw
Algorithm #2 (sum):       3866 322 patchSG0003511.ToolTalk_sw
MD5 checksum:             AD65C6EDCD13FF99F9D2E6912E8EFE72

Filename:                 patchSG0003511.idb
Algorithm #1 (sum -r):    55405 1 patchSG0003511.idb
Algorithm #2 (sum):       40096 1 patchSG0003511.idb
MD5 checksum:             EF6CD99C919F2207E697F074F6FDF0BD

- ------------------------
- --- Acknowledgments ---
- ------------------------

Silicon Graphics wishes to thank the Network Associates, Inc., CERT
Coordination Center and the users of the Internet Community at large for
their assistance in this matter.

- -----------------------------------------------------------
- --- Silicon Graphics Inc. Security Information/Contacts ---
- -----------------------------------------------------------

If there are questions about this document, email can be sent to


Silicon Graphics provides security information and patches for
use by the entire SGI community.  This information is freely
available to any person needing the information and is available
via anonymous FTP and the Web.

The primary SGI anonymous FTP site for security information and patches
is (  Security information and patches
are located under the directories ~ftp/security and ~ftp/patches,
respectively. The Silicon Graphics Security Headquarters Web page is
accessible at the URL

For issues with the patches on the FTP sites, email can be sent to

For assistance obtaining or working with security patches, please
contact your SGI support provider.


Silicon Graphics provides a free security mailing list service
called wiretap and encourages interested parties to self-subscribe
to receive (via email) all SGI Security Advisories when they are
released. Subscribing to the mailing list can be done via the Web
( or by sending email
to SGI as outlined below.

% mail
subscribe wiretap <YourEmailAddress>

In the example above, <YourEmailAddress> is the email address that you
wish the mailing list information sent to.  The word end must be on a
separate line to indicate the end of the body of the message. The
control-d (^d) is used to indicate to the mail program that you are
finished composing the mail message.


Silicon Graphics provides a comprehensive customer World Wide Web site.
This site is located at


For reporting *NEW* SGI security issues, email can be sent to or contact your SGI support provider.  A
support contract is not required for submitting a security report.

  This information is provided freely to all interested parties and may
  be redistributed provided that it is not altered in any way, Silicon
  Graphics is appropriately credited and the document retains and
  includes its valid PGP signature.

Version: 2.6.2


[ End Silicon Graphics Advisory ]

CIAC wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Network Associates for the
information contained in this bulletin.

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