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Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2020 15:51:48 +0100
From: Matthias Gerstner <>
Subject: CVE-2019-18932: sarg: insecure usage of /tmp/sarg allows privilege
 escalation / DoS attack vector


sarg [1] is a tool that generates HTML reports from Squid web proxy
logfiles. Typically these reports are generated automatically via cron
jobs on a regular basis (e.g. through entries in

In the course of a code review [2] of sarg it turned out that it uses a
fixed path in /tmp/sarg by default to store files (log.c:571). sarg
employs a couple of system calls to check for an already existing
/tmp/sarg directory and tries to reuse it by deleting its contents
(log.c:588). The system calls used for this logic are subject to race
conditions. Since sarg runs as 'root' this behaviour allows
unprivileged local users to prepare symlink attacks.

By winning a race condition an attacker will be able to let new files be
created or existing files be overwritten in privileged locations. This
presents a denial-of-service attack vector and possibly also a privilege
escalation in some circumstances. Since the content of the files that
are created cannot be controlled by the attacker (as far I can tell)
there is no easy full privilege escalation to root possible.

A mitigation for this weakness can be to pass the '-w' switch to
invocations of /usr/bin/sarg which allows to explicitly specify a
safe temporary directory to use. Also in the openSUSE packaging the cron
jobs for sarg don't invoke sarg if not explicitly enabled in
/etc/sysconfig/sarg. On Debian 9, however, for example, the cron jobs
seem to run unconditionally after installing sarg.

To make sarg safe, the file handlings parts will need to be completely
revised. An improvement could also be not to run sarg as 'root' user at
all but instead share the 'squid' user account, if possible. The
upstream maintainer communicated to me that this should be possible
without loss of functionality.

The attached suggested patch adjust the sarg-reports wrapper script to
pass a safe and unpredictable temporary directory name to sarg to
prevent the security issues described, at least when called from the
cron job context.

I've informed the upstream maintainer about this issue on 2019-11-13 and
discussed various aspects of a suitable security fix with him. No
agreement on a suitable publication date for this finding or a final
patch could be achieved and I did not hear back for around a month by

Best Regards



Matthias Gerstner <>
Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Inf. (FH), Security Engineer
Phone: +49 911 740 53 290
GPG Key ID: 0x14C405C971923553

SUSE Software Solutions Germany GmbH
HRB 36809, AG Nürnberg
Geschäftsführer: Felix Imendörffer

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