Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GNU libc vulnerability

The OSG Security Team wants you to be aware of a vulnerability impacting the glibc library.


Tavis Ormandy recently released information about a vulnerability in GNU libc, complete with an exploit that on many systems can give any local user root privileges. (For full details, see the link below in the References section.)

This vulnerability has been labelled CVE-2010-3847, and is present on many Linux distributions, including RHEL/CentOS/SL 5 (but *not* RHEL 3 and 4 and their derivatives). Vendor patches are not yet available.


As far as is known, the vulnerability can only be exploited if users can write to a file system that contains binaries with suid root permissions. (Since it is necessary for the attacker to create a hard link to a suid root binary.)

This is, for instance, the case if /bin is located on the same filesystem as /tmp (or any other user writable location, like /var/tmp, /home, /var/lib/texmf, and so on). This is unfortunately a common configuration.


To make it impossible to make the required hard link, directories containing suid/sgid binaries can be made to appear to as separate file systems by doing

mount -o bind /sbin /sbin

for each such directory.

Please note that these commands must be re-run whenever the system is rebooted, for example by adding them to a suitable init script.

A baseline list of directories with suid/sgid binaries on a typical RHEL 5 system is:


You should check for any additional site specific locations using a command like

find / -type f \( -perm /u+s -o -perm /g+s \)

that will list all files with suid/sgid permissions.


Apply the mitigation method above for all relevant locations.

You may wish to suspend user logins and job submission until these steps have been taken; please refer to your local site policy.

Apply vendor updates as soon as they become available.



The majority of this announcement was put together by Nuno Dias - EGI CSIRT

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