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Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:03:20 -0500
From: Michael Orlitzky <>
Subject: CVE-2017-16933: Icinga2 root privilege escalation via init script and
 systemd service

Product: Icinga2 open source monitoring system
Versions-affected: 2.8.0 and earlier (all current 2.x versions)
Author: Michael Orlitzky

== Summary ==

The icinga2 init script and systemd service file allow the unprivileged
$ICINGA2_USER to gain root privileges by replacing the target of chown
with a link.

== Details ==

The "chown" command follows both symlinks and hard links by default on
a vanilla Linux kernel. It is therefore unsafe to call "chown" on a
path that is not wholly controlled by root; if the target path can be
replaced with a link by a non-root user, then that user can do so to
gain root when "chown" is called.

The "etc/initsystem/prepare-dirs" script that ships with icinga2 calls
"chown" in that manner, leading to a root exploit for the $ICINGA2_USER.
For example,

  chown $ICINGA2_USER... $(dirname -- $ICINGA2_PID_FILE)
  if [ -f $ICINGA2_PID_FILE ]; then

The first line gives away ownership of the directory containing the
$ICINGA2_PID_FILE, and the next line calls chown on that file. The
exploit is that, after the first line executes, the $ICINGA2_USER can
simply replace $ICINGA2_PID_FILE with a link (sym or hard) to a
root-owned file. The call to "chown" will then change ownership of the
link's target. That is easily exploitable to gain root, by taking
ownership of e.g. "/etc/passwd" or root's ".bashrc" file.

The prepare-dirs script is used by both the SysV-style init script,

  start() {
    printf "Starting Icinga 2: "
    @CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX@...b/icinga2/prepare-dirs $SYSCONFIGFILE

and the systemd service file,

  ExecStartPre=.../prepare-dirs @ICINGA2_SYSCONFIGFILE@

and so both are vulnerable to the problem in prepare-dirs.

To exploit the "chown" calls the first time the service is started,
you would need to take advantage of the race condition to create a
link before the "-f" test is executed. However, there's a much easier
scenario: if the service is started, stopped, and started again (even
across reboots, for persistent directories), then the "-f" test will
succeed, and call "chown" on a path that has been controlled by
$ICINGA2_USER since the first time the service was started.

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