TUCoPS :: SGI :: cert0102.txt

SGI lp vulnerability


CERT(sm) Advisory CA-95:15
Original issue date: November 8, 1995
Last revised: August 30, 1996
              Information previously in the README was inserted
              into the advisory.

              A complete revision history is at the end of this file.
Topic: SGI lp Vulnerability
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The CERT Coordination Center has had several security incidents reported to us
involving the lp account on the Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI) IRIX system. As
distributed by SGI, the lp account, as well as other accounts, has no password
on a newly installed system. The lp account, which is used by the lp(1)
program for remote printing, and other accounts are initially configured
without passwords to provide easy "plug-and-play" install and operation.
However, these password-less accounts are well known by intruders and allow
unintended access to your system.

In the documentation that SGI distributes with their systems, these
password-less accounts are specifically addressed in the "IRIX Advanced Site
and Server Administrative Guide" in the chapter on System Security. The
documentation recommends disabling the login for the lp account. It also
recommends that you create passwords for the following accounts immediately:
demos, guest, lp, nuucp, root, tour, tutor, and 4Dgifts. The documentation
includes guidelines for choosing good passwords.

To determine if your system is vulnerable, use the following command as
root to display the status of all password-less accounts:

        # /bin/passwd -sa | /bin/awk '$2 == "NP" {print $0}'

If this command displays any accounts, especially the lp account, then
your system is vulnerable. To address this vulnerability, we recommend
using the workarounds in Section III below.

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

I.   Description

     The SGI IRIX system as distributed has some accounts without
     passwords. Among the accounts that are password-less is the lp
     account. This account is used in part by the lp(1) program to manage
     object and spooled data files in the /var/spool/lp directory (for IRIX
     4.X, this directory is /usr/spool/lp). The account is created without a
     password because lp(1) uses rsh(1) to transfer files from print clients
     to print servers.

II.  Impact

     Remote users can gain access to systems without authentication. The level
     of privilege gained depends on the password-less account used to access a

     Although the scope of this advisory is the lp account, keep in mind that
     any account without a password (or with an easy-to-guess password) is a
     point for access without authentication. 

III. Solution

     The general solution is to lock all accounts that do not have
     passwords. Section A below describes how to do that.
     Section B suggests one way to re-enable print client to print server
     A. Lock each password-less account.
        Store the following script in /tmp/CheckPasswords for example and
        then run it as root on your machine to lock each password-less
        account. The password installed will not allow the accounts to be 
        used as login accounts. See the passwd(1) manual page for more
        details. Note that this script only locks accounts on the local 
        machine. If there are password-less accounts in NIS, those accounts 
        will not be locked by this script.

        ------------------------cut here--8<------------------------
        for account in `/bin/passwd -sa | /bin/awk '$2 == "NP" {print $1}'`
                /bin/echo Locked the $account account
                /bin/passwd -l $account
        ------------------------cut here--8<------------------------

        The first time the script is run, it should display something
        similar to the following:

                # sh /tmp/CheckPasswords
                Locked the tutor account
                Locked the tour account
                Locked the lp account

        If the script locked an account, run the script again. This
        time it should produce no output because all password-less
        accounts have now been locked.

     B. Re-enable print client to print server communication.

        (We have verified with SGI that you can use the script in this section
        to re-enable the print client to print server communication. SGI has
        asked us to make it clear, however, that they do not have the
        resources to handle issues relating to the use of wrappers.) 

        Note that, in general, the CERT Coordination Center recommends
        that the rlogin and rsh services be blocked at your Internet
        routers and turned off on all of your machines. If you have turned
        the rsh service off on your print server, you will need to turn it
        back on on that machine. If you decide to do this, we strongly
        recommend that you install and use a TCP/IP wrapper program to
        restrict the set of machines that can connect to your print server's
        rsh service. A TCP/IP wrapper program is available from

          MD5 (tcp_wrappers_7.2.tar.Z) = 883d00cbd2dedd9bfc783b7065740e74

        Once the rsh service is turned on on your print server and a TCP/IP
        wrapper program installed and configured, you then need to define
        the set of machines that can communicate with your print server.

        For each IRIX system that controls a printer, the lp account
        needs to be changed to re-enable print client to print server
        communication. To do this, the lp account on each print server
        needs a .rhosts file in lp's home directory, typically
        /var/spool/lp (for IRIX 4.X, this directory is /usr/spool/lp).
        The owner and group of this file must be the same as that of the
        lp account. Its contents are lines of the form:

                print_client_name       lp

        Each line identifies the name of the print client and indicates
        that the lp account is the account that is allowed to rsh from 
        the print client to the print server.
        The following shows an example of configuring communication from
        a print client (named "client") to a print server. This
        configuration need only be done on a print server. The ping
        command is used to determine the print client's formal name
        according to whatever host resolution scheme is in place.
        That name is stored in the .rhosts file. The last two lines,
        the ping and the echo, need to be repeated for each client of
        a print server.

        # /bin/awk -F: '$1 == "lp" {print $0}' /etc/passwd
        lp:*LK*:9:9:Print Spooler Owner:/var/spool/lp:/bin/sh
        # cd `/bin/awk -F: '$1 == "lp" {print $6}' /etc/passwd`
        # /bin/touch .rhosts
        # /bin/chown lp .rhosts
        # /bin/chgrp lp .rhosts
        # /bin/chmod 600 .rhosts
        # /usr/etc/ping -c 1 client | /bin/awk '$1 == "PING" {print $2}'
        # /bin/echo client.YourDomain lp >> .rhosts

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
The CERT Coordination Center staff thanks Silicon Graphics Inc. and
Christopher Kranz of Princeton University for their support in responding to
this problem. 
- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you believe that your system has been compromised, contact the CERT
Coordination Center or your representative in the Forum of Incident
Response and Security Teams (FIRST).

If you wish to send sensitive incident or vulnerability information to
CERT staff by electronic mail, we strongly advise that the email be
encrypted. The CERT Coordination Center can support a shared DES key, PGP
(public key available via anonymous FTP on info.cert.org), or PEM (contact
CERT staff for details).

Internet email: cert@cert.org
Telephone: +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
           CERT personnel answer 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. EST(GMT-5)/EDT(GMT-4),
           and are on call for emergencies during other hours.
Fax: +1 412-268-6989

Postal address:  CERT Coordination Center
                 Software Engineering Institute
                 Carnegie Mellon University
                 Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

CERT advisories and bulletins are posted on the USENET newsgroup
comp.security.announce. If you would like to have future advisories and
bulletins mailed to you or to a mail exploder at your site, please send mail
to cert-advisory-request@cert.org.

Past CERT publications, information about FIRST representatives, and
other information related to computer security are available for anonymous
FTP from info.cert.org. 

Copyright 1995, 1996 Carnegie Mellon University
This material may be reproduced and distributed without permission provided it
is used for non commercial purposes and the copyright statement is included.

CERT is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.


Silicon Graphics, Inc. have issued a Security Advisory
concerning this vulnerability (19951002-01-I). Their advisory
can be obtained from


We have received additional information from one member of our
constituency regarding the vulnerability in the SGI printing system
and the accounts without passwords. The supercomputer NEC SX-3 running
"SUPER-UX unix 5.10 1 SX-3" (which is very similar to IRIX) also has
the same vulnerability.

(As far as we are aware there are only about 30 machines [in the world]
running this OS.)

Revision history

Aug. 30, 1996  Information previously in the README was inserted
               into the advisory.
Dec. 20, 1995  Updates section - Added a pointer to SGI advisory and a note
               about the supercomputer NEC SX-3.

Version: 2.6.2


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