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Multiple Vendor CDE dtpscd Process Buffer Overflow
M-019: Multiple Vendor CDE dtpscd Process Buffer Overflow Privacy and Legal Notice


M-019: Multiple Vendor CDE dtpscd Process Buffer Overflow

[Internet Security Systems Security Advisory ISS-101]

November 21, 2001 01:00 GMT

PROBLEM: A buffer overflow condition exists in the connection negotiation routine within the dtpscd daemon of the Common Desktop Environment (CDE).
PLATFORM: Multiple versions of UNIX running CDE. This includes but is not limited to HP Unix (this will be updated as more patches become available).
DAMAGE: An attacker can execute arbitrary code with up to root privileges.
SOLUTION: Apply patches available, or Apply workaround described below.

The risk is HIGH. This is a common service, used by most versions of UNIX, and is a remotely exploitable root compromise. This is fairly easy to exploit.

  PATCHES: for an up to date list of vendors and patches, see the following URL:

[***** Start Multiple Vendor Security Bulletins *****]

[***** Start Internet Security Systems Security Advisory ISS-101 *****]

Internet Security Systems Security Advisory
November 12, 2001

Multi-Vendor Buffer Overflow Vulnerability in CDE Subprocess Control Service


Internet Security Systems (ISS) X-Force has discovered a buffer overflow
in the Subprocess Control Server (dtspcd) in all Unix variants running
CDE (Common Desktop Environment) system. The vulnerability in the dtspcd
daemon may allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands on a 
target system with super user privilege.

Affected Versions:

Many Unix vendors are affected by this vulnerability. 

ISS X-Force has been working with CERT on this issue. Please refer
to the CERT advisory at the following address for the current list
of vulnerable versions:


CDE is the default X-Windows GUI environment shipped with newer versions
of Sun Solaris and many other Unix variants. The Subprocess Control
Server daemon is not intended to be run by normal users and is spawned
by other components within the CDE system. Dtspcd is started by the
Internet services daemon (inetd) when a CDE client attempts to create a
process on the daemonís host.

A buffer overflow condition exists in the connection negotiation routine
within dtpscd. A remote attacker can generate a specially crafted CDE
client request to take advantage of the flaw and overflow exploit code
onto the heap. The attacker can use this exploit code to execute
arbitrary commands on the target system.

The Subprocess Control Server daemon is enabled by default on all
operating systems with CDE installed. This process is run by the
"root" user and accepts remote connections by default.


This advisory was tentatively scheduled for release in December 2001.
The issue was made public in the following announcement before most
vendors were able to make patches available:

ISS X-Force encourages all affected users to check with your individual
vendors for patch availability. Users should take steps to disable or
limit access to the vulnerable service until patches are made available.

ISS RealSecure Network Sensor customers can configure a Connection Event
for port 6112 to detect potential attacks. For more information on
configuring Connection Events, refer to the RealSecure 6.0 Network
Sensor Policy Guide, or the RealSecure 5.x Network Sensor User Guide.

ISS RealSecure Server Sensor customers can configure Server Sensor to
block access attempts to the dtspc port. The following steps describe
how to add a Firecell rule to RealSecure Server Sensor (Solaris and
Linux) to block access attempts to the dtspc port. X-Force recommends
that administrators investigate the implications of blocking dtspc in
their environments before applying this rule.

1. Open the server sensor policy to which you want to add this signature.
2. Select the Protect tab, open the Protect folder, and then open the
   Firecell folder.
3. Select the TCP Inbound section.
4. Click Add to create a new signature.
5. Type a name for the firecell signature, e.g. Block_dtspcd, and then
   click OK.
   The new signature is added to the policy in the TCP Inbound section.
6. Select the signature that you just created.
   The properties of the signature appear in the right pane.
7. Set the priority of the event in the Priority box. 
8. In the Port number field, type 6112.
9. In the IP address field, select ANY ADDRESS.
10. In the Actions section, select Action (1) In the range of IP
    addresses, drop the packet and generate the responses.
11. In the Response section, select the responses you want the sensor
    to take when a match to this signature occurs.
12. Save and apply the policy to the sensor.

ISS X-Force will provide specific detection and assessment support for
this vulnerability in upcoming X-Press Updates for RealSecure Network
Sensor and Internet Scanner. ISS will also provide detection support in
an upcoming signature update for BlackICE products.

Additional Information:

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
name CAN-2001-0803 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in
the CVE list (, which standardizes names for
security problems.


This vulnerability was discovered and researched by Chris Spencer of the
ISS X-Force. Internet Security Systems would like to thank CERT for
their response and handling of this vulnerability. 


About Internet Security Systems (ISS)
Internet Security Systems is a leading global provider of security
management solutions for the Internet, protecting digital assets and
ensuring safe and uninterrupted e-business. With its industry-leading
intrusion detection and vulnerability assessment, remote managed
security services, and strategic consulting and education offerings, ISS
is a trusted security provider to more than 8,000 customers worldwide
including 21 of the 25 largest U.S. commercial banks and the top 10 U.S.
telecommunications companies. Founded in 1994, ISS is headquartered in
Atlanta, GA, with additional offices throughout North America and
international operations in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and
the Middle East. For more information, visit the Internet Security
Systems web site at or call 888-901-7477.

Copyright (c) 2001 Internet Security Systems, Inc. All rights reserved

Permission is hereby granted for the redistribution of this Alert
electronically. It is not to be edited in any way without express
consent of the X-Force. If you wish to reprint the whole or any part
of this Alert in any other medium excluding electronic medium, please
e-mail for permission.


The information within this paper may change without notice. Use of
this information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition.
There are NO warranties with regard to this information. In no event
shall the author be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of or
in connection with the use or spread of this information. Any use of
this information is at the user's own risk.

X-Force PGP Key available at:
as well as on MIT's PGP key server and's key server.

Please send suggestions, updates, and comments to: X-Force of Internet Security Systems, Inc.

[***** End Internet Security Systems Security Advisory ISS-101 *****]
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Digest Name:  daily security bulletins digest
    Created:  Tue Nov 13  3:00:02 PST 2001

Table of Contents:

Document ID      Title
---------------  -----------
HPSBUX0111-175   Sec. Vulnerability in dtspcd

The documents are listed below.

Document ID:  HPSBUX0111-175
Date Loaded:  20011112
      Title:  Sec. Vulnerability in dtspcd


The information in the following Security Bulletin should be acted
upon as soon as possible.  Hewlett-Packard Company will not be
liable for any consequences to any customer resulting from customer's
failure to fully implement instructions in this Security Bulletin as
soon as possible.

PROBLEM:  Buffer overflow in dtspcd

PLATFORM: HP9000 Series 700/800 running HP-UX releases 10.10,
          10.20, 10.24, 11.00, 11.04, and 11.11.

DAMAGE:  Possible unauthorized access, possible increased privileges.

SOLUTION: Until patches are available, manually install a replacement

MANUAL ACTIONS: Install replacement dtspcd.

AVAILABILITY:  The replacement dtspcd files are available now.

 A. Background
    A buffer overflow has been reported in dtspcd.  It may be
    possible to exploit this overflow to gain unauthorized access.

 B. Fixing the problem
    Until patches are available, install the appropriate file to
    replace dtspcd.

 C. Recommended solution

      1. Download dtspcd.tar.gz from the ftp site.
         This file is temporary and will be deleted when patches
         are available from the standard HP web sites, including

          ftp site: (
          account: dtspcd
          password: dtspcd
          file: dtspcd.tar.gz

           If using a browser:


           Note: There is an ftp defect in IE5 that may result in
           a browser hang.  To work around this:
             - Select Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced
             - Un-check the option: [ ] Enable folder view for FTP sites

      2. Copy the dtspcd.tar.gz file to a protected directory
         and unpack it.
         If you wish to verify the md5 sum before unpacking the
         dtspcd.tar.gz file, please refer to:

               Patch sums and the MD5 program

          The md5 sum for dtspcd.tar.gz is:

         MD5 (dtspcd.tar.gz) = b122f84857f4da65b50d9926201608a1

      3. Install the new dtspcd file using the
         install_dtscpd script or some similar procedure.

         For example on a 10.20 system:

            ./install_dtscpd dtspcd.10.20

         Note: 10.24 systems should use dtspcd.10.20.
               11.04 systems should use dtspcd.11.00.
               On 10.24 and 11.04 (VVOS) systems the
               install_dtscpd should be run at SYSTEM.

      4. Each shar file contains the following README:

====================== Start of README ===============================
Note:  These files are temporary and will be deleted from the ftp site
       when official patches are available.

The install_dtspcd script may be used to install the
special release versions of dtspcd.

As root set the working directory to the location of the
special release dtspcd files and


Output of what(1)  (edited)
        X Window System, Version 11 R5+ HP-UX B.10.10.00
         October 2001 Patch Release
        (build date: Fri Nov  9 14:15:50 IST 2001)
        dtspcd: $Revision: 1.2 $

        X Window System, Version 11 R6+ HP-UX B.10.20.00
         October 2001 Patch Release
        (build date: Fri Nov  9 14:59:28 IST 2001)
        dtspcd: $Revision: 1.2 $

        View: /view/apurna_main, Build Type: r6oct01_1100
        (build date: Fri Nov  9 14:38:15 IST 2001)

        View: /view/apurna_main, Build Type: r6oct01_1111
        (build date: Fri Nov  9 14:17:18 IST 2001)
Output of cksum(1)
1296183867 163840 dtspcd.10.10
362631488 163840 dtspcd.10.20
2348623604 192512 dtspcd.11.00
592942149 200704 dtspcd.11.11
====================== End of README ===============================

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-----End of Document ID:  HPSBUX0111-175--------------------------------------


Potential Workarounds:

Until patches are provided for other versions of Unix, One way to 
limit this vulnerability is to use TCP Wrappers (or similar "wrapping" 
technology).  This can be configured to limit access to the dtpscd daemon from 
untrusted networks/systems.  dtspcd typically listens on port 6112/tcp. 

Another option (or in addition to above) is to use packet filtering technology 
such as network firewalls to reduce the availability of the service to the Internet
(Note: firewalls are only one component of an effective security system; there are 
risks unwanted traffic will still get through).  

Finally, if the dtspcd daemon is not necessary for operations, disable and 
remove from configuration. By default, CIAC recommends any unused services 
be disabled, as dictated by best security practices.

[***** End Multiple Vendor Security Bulletins *****]

CIAC wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Internet Security Systems for the information contained in this bulletin.
CIAC services are available to DOE, DOE Contractors, and the NIH. CIAC can be contacted at:

    Voice:          +1 925-422-8193 (7 x 24)

    FAX:            +1 925-423-8002

    STU-III:        +1 925-423-2604


    World Wide Web:


                     (same machine -- either one will work)

    Anonymous FTP:


                     (same machine -- either one will work)

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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