Major Linux security glitch lets hackers in at Claranet

Major Linux security glitch lets hackers in at Claranet
Major Linux security glitch lets hackers in at Claranet 

By Chris Williams and John Leyden 
The Register
14th February 2008

A major security vulnerability in the Linux kernel, which was revealed 
on Sunday, has claimed its first confirmed UK victim in business ISP 

Hackers used a bug in the sys_vmsplice kernel call, which handles 
virtual memory management, to gain root privileges and replace Claranet 
customers' index.html files with the hacker's calling card.

The exploit was noticed at about 6pm on Tuesday.

Claranet said: "Malicious activity related to the vulnerability was 
detected on Claranet's shared hosting platform. Within 10 minutes 
Claranet contained and halted the malicious activity, and locked down 
the platform to prevent further damage.

"The shared hosting platform was fully patched with the vendor's updates 
by 10am on Wednesday. Less than one per cent of the total web sites 
hosted on the Claranet platform were affected and all were restored to 
their original states by 1pm on Wednesday 13 February."

The (potentially tricky) hacking process was dumbed down by the 
publication of exploit code earlier this week, Linux-Watch notes.

Security notification firm Secunia reports that switching to either 
version or of the Linux kernel guards against attack. 
Hotfixes designed to plug the vulnerability short of upgrading the 
kernel have also been released.

The affected system call first appeared in version 2.6.17 of the Linux 
kernel, but wasn't left open to exploit until changes were made with the 
2.6.23 version.

Linux vendors are working on a permanent fix for the problem. Claranet 
emphasised that it keeps a close eye on announcements of new 
vulnerabilities and acts swiftly to patch them.

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