Follow @Openwall on Twitter for new release announcements and other news
[<prev] [next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2017 18:30:18 -0400
From: Michael Orlitzky <>
Subject: CVE-2017-14102: MIMEDefang privilege escalation via PID file

Product: MIMEDefang
Versions-affected: 2.80 and earlier
Fixed-in: Version 2.81
Author: Michael Orlitzky
Acknowledgments: Dianne Skoll, who had an initial fix ready within
  minutes of my report.

== Summary ==

The MIMEDefang daemons should create their PID files before dropping
privileges. This represents a minor security issue; additional factors
are needed to make it exploitable.

== Details ==

The purpose of the PID file is to hold the PID of the running daemon,
so that later it can be stopped, restarted, or otherwise signalled
(many daemons reload their configurations in response to a SIGHUP).
To fulfil that purpose, the contents of the PID file need to be
trustworthy. If the PID file is writable by a non-root user, then he
can replace its contents with the PID of a root process. Afterwards,
any attempt to signal the PID contained in the PID file will instead
signal a root process chosen by the non-root user (a vulnerability).

This is commonly exploitable through init scripts that are run as root
and which blindly trust the contents of their PID files. Examples of
said init scripts can be found in the MIMEDefang source tree:

  * examples/
  * redhat/

== Exploitation ==

An example of a problematic scenario involving an init script would be,

1. I run "/etc/init.d/mimedefang start" to start the daemon.

2. mimedefang drops to the "defang" user.

3. mimedefang writes its PID file, now owned by the "defang" user.

4. Someone compromises the daemon.

5. The attacker is generally limited in what he can do because the
   daemon doesn't run as root. However, he can write "1" into the
   PID file, and he does.

6. I run "/etc/init.d/mimedefang stop" to stop the daemon while I
   investigate the weird behavior resulting from the hack.

7. The machine reboots, because I killed PID 1 (this is normally
   restricted to root).

== Resolution ==

The problem is resolved in MIMEDefang 2.81 by creating the PID files as
root before dropping privileges. The role of the lock files --
previously played by the PID files -- is now played by a separate set of
files (specified on the command-line with "-o").

Init script authors should relocate their PID files to either /run or

Powered by blists - more mailing lists

Please check out the Open Source Software Security Wiki, which is counterpart to this mailing list.

Confused about mailing lists and their use? Read about mailing lists on Wikipedia and check out these guidelines on proper formatting of your messages.