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Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2014 15:12:25 +0100
From: David Edmundson <>
Subject: Privilege Escalation via KDE Clock KCM polkit helper

Hello, I found a security issue in KDE which under Ubuntu and some other
distros allows a program to run arbitrary processes as root from an admin
user without any prompts.

I need a CVE number.  I understand you are an authority that can provide

Let me know if I can help provide anything else.

KDE Project Security Advisory

Title:          kde-workspace:
Risk Rating:    Medium (??)
CVE: ???
Platforms:      All
Versions:       kde-workspace < 4.14.3
Author:         David Edmundson <>
Date:           4 November 2014


KDE workspace configuration module for setting the date and time has a
helper program
which runs as root for performing actions. This is secured with polkit.

This helper takes the name of the ntp utility to run as an argument. This
allows a hacker
to run any arbitrary command as root under the guise of updating the time.


An application can gain root priveledges from an admin user with either
misleading information
or no interaction.

On some systems the user will be shown a prompt to change the time.
However, if the system has
policykit-desktop-privileges installed, the datetime helper will be invoked
by an admin user
without any prompts.


Add a polkit rule to disable the action


Upgrade kde-desktop to 4.14.3 once released or apply the following patch:


Thanks to David Edmundson for finding and fixing the issue

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