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Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2013 18:48:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: CVE request: pam: password hashes aren't compared case-sensitively

Hash: SHA1

> It was found that in pam_userdb module for Pam, password hashes weren't 
> compared case-sensitively, which could lead to acceptance of hashes for 
> completely different passwords, which shouldn't be accepted.
> After hashing the user's password with crypt(), pam_userdb compares the 
> result to the stored hash case-insensitively with strncasecmp(), which 
> should be avoided, as it could result in an increased possibility of a 
> successful brute-force attack.

Use CVE-2013-7041.

Just for clarification, this refers to case sensitivity of password
hashes, not case sensitivity of cleartext passwords. It could
conceivably be legitimate for a product to process cleartext passwords
on Linux in a case-insensitive way (perhaps for compatibility with
another system on which passwords are supposed to be
case-insensitive). There doesn't seem to be any plausible reason for
supporting case-insensitivity of password hashes. A legitimate user
isn't going to try a password that hashes to one of the differently
cased values.

We also looked at other comments about this issue but did not assign
additional CVE IDs:

> From: Solar Designer <>
> Message-ID: <>

> a length comparison of the computed vs. stored hash should have been added

This seems to be a suggested security improvement to address the
possibility of a system that contained stored hashes with invalid
lengths. We would not consider this a vulnerability fix in the
traditional sense.

> correct passwords may possibly be determined remotely in linear rather
> than exponential time (as function of password length):
> Additionally, the length comparison, while having it is crucial, leaks
> even more timing information: it tells a remote attacker whether the
> tested password length is correct or not.

Again, there is a possible security improvement to address
computation-time information leaks that were not considered during the
product design. We would not consider this a vulnerability fix in the
traditional sense unless the product tried to prevent such leaks but
had an implementation error.

- -- 
CVE assignment team, MITRE CVE Numbering Authority
M/S M300
202 Burlington Road, Bedford, MA 01730 USA
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