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Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2012 11:26:34 -0500
From: Raphael Geissert <>
To: Tomas Hoger <>
Subject: Re: CVE request: opencryptoki insecure lock files handling


On Friday 07 September 2012 06:32:39 Tomas Hoger wrote:
> On Thu, 6 Sep 2012 20:03:20 -0500 Raphael Geissert wrote:
> > It is possible for an attacker to replace the lock files with
> > symlinks and have pkcsslotd (or others) fchmod the target of the
> > symlink to make it world-writable, create arbitrary files, etc.
> There were following problems that I'm aware of:
> - /tmp/.pkapi_xpk - This was normally created by pcksslotd (running as
>   root).  Symlink attack on this did not allow corrupting / truncating
>   files, but allowed creating new empty files at arbitrary locations.
> - /tmp/.pkcs11spinloc - I believe this is created by opencryptoki
>   clients.  In addition to the above, there's a chmod to make this file
>   world writable.  This may get created by non-root user, but chmod
>   may still run later with root privileges later.
> Those files do not seem to get removed as part of the normal operation,
> so replacing them with symlinks if they already exist is limited
> by /tmp stickiness.  Attacker does not need to be pkcs11 group member.

Correct, and to make it clear: /tmp/.pkcs11spinloc *is* chmod'ed by 
pcksslotd to make it world-writable.

> > In response, upstream released 2.4.1[1] which fixed the fchmod issue
> > (commits [3] and [4]).
> 2.4.1 moved those files that became /var/lock/LCK..opencryptoki
> and /var/lock/LCK..opencryptoki_stdll respectively.
> > Niels discovered that 2.4.1 still allowed arbitrary files creation by
> > following symlinks.
> Would you mind clarifying?  As files were moved to /var/lock, this
> should require attacker to have permissions to write to that directory.

At least in Debian (and its derivatives):
$ stat -c %a /var/lock/

> > Upstream then released 2.4.2[2], fixing this last issue (commits [5]
> > and [6]).
> What do 2.4.2 actually fix?  I think the move of /tmp/.pkcs11spinloc
> to /var/lock/LCK..opencryptoki_stdll probably created a regression in
> use cases where opencryptoki clients run without root privileges (or
> better to say without privileges to create the file in /var/lock/).

Given the above (/var/lock/ is world-writable), 2.4.1 doesn't cause a 
regression for non-root users.

The move to the subdirectory in /var/lock limits the attack surface to 
members of the pkcs11 group, who are fully trusted, therefore becoming a 

> Another move to pkcs11 group writable /var/lock/opencryptoki seems to
> resolve that, but it also negates benefits of the 2.4.1 security fix.
> Based on the rather quick look at the patches you pointed out, 2.4.2
> seems to have the same problems pre-2.4.1 had, with following changed
> conditions:
> - attacker now needs to be pkcs11 group member
> - lack of directory stickiness should make it easier to execute the
>   attack
> > Even with the fixes in 2.4.2, members of the pkcs11 group could still
> > use symlink attacks. However, as per upstream's documentation,
> > members of such group are expected to be trusted[7].
> Correct, any pkcs11 group member can easily compromise any other user
> using opencryptoki library see:
> Upstream does not see that as an issue though...

Yeah, I saw it...

Raphael Geissert - Debian Developer -

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