TUCoPS :: Unix :: Various Flavours :: ciacl131.txt

CIAC L-131 IBM AIX telnetd Buffer Overflow


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

                             INFORMATION BULLETIN

                        IBM AIX telnetd Buffer Overflow

August 10, 2001 22:00 GMT                                         Number L-131
PROBLEM:       A remote buffer overflow exists in the telnet daemon in use on 
               many platforms. 
PLATFORM:      IBM AIX 4.3.x and 5.1 
DAMAGE:        A remote attacker can cause the telnetd process to overflow the 
               buffer and crash, or execute arbitrary code as the user running 
               telnetd, usually root. 
SOLUTION:      Check with your vendor for specific information on the 
               operating systems in use at your site. For IBM AIX systems, 
               follow the workaround or solutions as described below. 
VULNERABILITY  The risk is HIGH. A valid user account and password are not 
ASSESSMENT:    required to exploit this vulnerability, only the ability to 
               connect to a telnetd server. The exploit code has been 
               published on the Internet. 
 CIAC BULLETIN:      http://www.ciac.org/ciac/bulletins/l-131.shtml 

[******  Start IBM Security Advisory ******]


Fri Jul 27 13:17:01 CDT 2001
Revised: Thu Aug 09 11:31:34 CDT 2001
                           VULNERABILITY SUMMARY

VULNERABILITY:    Buffer overflow vulnerability in telnet daemon

PLATFORMS:        IBM AIX 4.3.x and 5.1

SOLUTION:         Apply the emergency-fixes described below, or
                  employ the workaround, also described below.

THREAT:           Malicious user could obtain root privileges or
                  could force a system crash.

CERT Advisory:    CA-2001-21

                           DETAILED INFORMATION

I.  Description

    AIX ships with a version of the "telnet" daemon, derived from the
    original BSD version.

    This daemon is shipped SUID, or "set user ID", and is
    executable by an ordinary user.

    In the AIX version of "telnetd", as well as most other versions
    of "telnetd" derived from the BSD telnet daemon, there exists a buffer
    overflow vulnerability in telrcv(), the function that processes
    various options under telnet. There is an output buffer in the
    function that holds the information gathered during the parsing
    of the option request and the daemon's internal state. This
    buffer is not bounds checked, allowing for the possibility of
    forcing an overflow condition in the stack when the buffer
    returns its data to the telnet client.

II. Impact

   A malicious local or remote user can use a well-crafted exploit code
   to gain root privileges on the attacked system, compromising the
   integrity of the system and its attached local network.

   IBM believes this is a difficult vulnerability to exploit with the
   goal of obtaining enhanced system privileges, but it is not very
   difficult to force a core dump, and possibly a system crash.
   Exploits already exist in the wild, and are being maliciously

   An exploit obtained by the AIX Security Team has been shown to
   produce a core dump, though AIX remained stable. Other exploits,
   though, may cause more serious harm.

   Customers are urged to take measures to close this

III.  Solutions


      There is no practical workaround. To protect against an exploit
      before the efix or APAR is applied, the telnet daemon can be
      disabled to prevent the use of telnet.

      Customers may wish to consider replacing telnet with a version
      of Secure Shell (SSH), available from a variety of providers,
      as a security enhancement over telnet.

  B.  Official fix

      IBM is working on the following fixes which will be available

      APAR number for AIX 4.3.3: IY22029
      APAR number for AIX 5.1: IY22021

      NOTE: Fix will not be provided for versions prior to 4.3 as
      these are no longer supported by IBM. Affected customers are
      urged to upgrade to 4.3.3 at the latest maintenance level,
      or to 5.1.

  C.  How to minimize the vulnerability

    Temporary fixes for AIX 4.3.x and 5.1 systems are available.

    The temporary fixes can be downloaded via ftp from:


    The efix compressed tarball consists of two fixes: one for
    AIX 4.3.3 and one for AIX 5.1. It also includes this Advisory.
    The two fix files are "telnetd.433" for 4.3.3 and "telnetd.510"
    for 5.1.

    These temporary fixes have not been fully regression tested; thus,
    IBM does not warrant the fully correct functioning of the efix.
    Customers install the efix and operate the modified version of AIX
    at their own risk.

    To proceed with efix installation:

    First, verify the MD5 cryptographic hash sums of each efix file
    you obtain from unpacking the tarball with those given below. These
    should match exactly; if they do not, contact the AIX Security Team
    at security-alert@austin.ibm.com and describe the discrepancy.

    Filename        sum             md5
    telnetd.433     47297   408     c7b16982f7f2011560c1b726eeae5c64
    telnetd.510     33124   383     7fa323119fa312c2c62dc7cd539d58ec

    Efix Installation Instructions:

    IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you are running AIX 4.3.3 you must install
    the version of libc (in package bos.rte.libc) that is at the level of, or higher, before proceeding with the efix installation
    for AIX 4.3.3.

    1. Become root, if not already done.

    2. Change to the /usr/sbin directory.

       Make a backup copy of the existing telnet binary, giving it
       a distinctive, meaningful name, such as "telnetd.original"
       or "telnetd.backup". This is IMPORTANT to do, so you can
       recover the orginal telnetd binary if something goes wrong during
       the installation of the efix!

       Do the above by executing "mv telnetd telnetd.original".

    3. In the tmp ("/tmp") directory, download, uncompress, and untar
       the efix.

       a. uncompress telnetd_efix.tar
       b. tar -xvf telnetd_efix.tar

    4. You will have two files: "telnetd.433" and
       "telnetd.510". Keep the tarfile appropriate for your
       version of AIX (i.e., "433" for 4.3.3; "510" for 5.1);
       You may remove the unneeded version.

    5. Now change back to the directory /usr/sbin. Doublecheck that
       you have made a backup of your original telnetd.  

    6. Execute "cp /tmp/telnet.xyz telnetd", where "xyz" is either
       "433" or "510", as appropriate.

    7. Execute "chmod 4554 telnetd".

    8. Execute "chown root:system telnetd".

    9. Execute "sync; sync; sync;"

   10. Execute "refresh -s inetd".

IV. Obtaining Fixes

IBM AIX APARs may be ordered using Electronic Fix Distribution (via the
FixDist program), or from the IBM Support Center.  For more information
on FixDist, and to obtain fixes via the Internet, please reference


or send email to "aixserv@austin.ibm.com" with the word "FixDist" in the
"Subject:" line.

To facilitate ease of ordering all security related APARs for each AIX
release, security fixes are periodically bundled into a cumulative APAR.
For more information on these cumulative APARs including last update and
list of individual fixes, send email to "aixserv@austin.ibm.com" with
the word "subscribe Security_APARs" in the "Subject:" line.

V.  Acknowledgements

    Many thanks to the TESO group in Germany and to "Sebastian", a
    poster to the BUGTRAQ mailing list, for finding & bringing this
    vulnerability to our attention.

VI.  Contact Information

Comments regarding the content of this announcement can be directed to:


To request the PGP public key that can be used to encrypt new AIX
security vulnerabilities, send email to security-alert@austin.ibm.com
with a subject of "get key".

If you would like to subscribe to the AIX security newsletter, send a
note to aixserv@austin.ibm.com with a subject of "subscribe Security".
To cancel your subscription, use a subject of "unsubscribe Security".
To see a list of other available subscriptions, use a subject of

IBM and AIX are a registered trademark of International Business
Machines Corporation.  All other trademarks are property of their
respective holders.

[******  End IBM Security Advisory ******]


CIAC wishes to acknowledge the contributions of IBM Corporation for the 
information contained in this bulletin.

CIAC, the Computer Incident Advisory Center, is the computer
security incident response team for the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) and the emergency backup response team for the National
Institutes of Health (NIH). CIAC is located at the Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory in Livermore, California. CIAC is also a founding
member of FIRST, the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams, a
global organization established to foster cooperation and coordination
among computer security teams worldwide.

CIAC services are available to DOE, DOE contractors, and the NIH. CIAC
can be contacted at:
    Voice:    +1 925-422-8193 (7x24)
    FAX:      +1 925-423-8002
    STU-III:  +1 925-423-2604
    E-mail:   ciac@ciac.org

Previous CIAC notices, anti-virus software, and other information are
available from the CIAC Computer Security Archive.

   World Wide Web:      http://www.ciac.org/
   Anonymous FTP:       ftp.ciac.org

PLEASE NOTE: Many users outside of the DOE, ESnet, and NIH computing
communities receive CIAC bulletins.  If you are not part of these
communities, please contact your agency's response team to report
incidents. Your agency's team will coordinate with CIAC. The Forum of
Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) is a world-wide
organization. A list of FIRST member organizations and their
constituencies can be obtained via WWW at http://www.first.org/.

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.

LAST 10 CIAC BULLETINS ISSUED (Previous bulletins available from CIAC)

L-121: SSH Secure Shell Remote Root Exploit Vulnerability
L-122: FreeBSD tcpdump Remote Buffer OVerflow Vulnerability
L-123: AIX libi18n Library Vulnerability
L-124: Remote Buffer Overflow in telnetd
L-125: SGI netprint Dynamic Shared Objects (DSO) Exploit
L-126: Microsoft Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Server Vulnerability
L-127: Sun BIND Vulnerabilities
L-128: MIT Kerberos 5 telnetd Buffer Overflows
L-129: Sun in.ftpd Filename Expansion Vulnerability
L-130: Multiple DoS Vulnerabilities in Cisco Broadband Operating System (CBOS)

TUCoPS is optimized to look best in Firefox® on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986-2024 AOH