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Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2021 18:55:33 +0200
From: Matthias Andree <>
Subject: fetchmail 6.4.21 released/regression fix for 6.4.20's security fix,
 and UPDATE: fetchmail <= 6.4.19 security announcement 2021-01


While fetchmail 6.4.20 fixed CVE-2021-36386, it
introduced a bug WRT buffered logging that got fixed in 6.4.21.

Packagers should either upgrade all the way to 6.4.21, or pick the
near-trivial regression fix from section #3 below or Git commit d3db2da1
can be cherry-picked from the GitLab or SourceForge repos.

fetchmail 6.4.21 is available from

The source archive is available at:

Detached GnuPG signatures for the respective tarballs are at:

SHA256 hash values for the tarballs:
SHA256(fetchmail-6.4.21.tar.lz)= 3abbe5f7bb003bdf3b8b71a2edd896fba55cbd3d19d59fe2ff8925fca4983af7
SHA256(fetchmail-6.4.21.tar.xz)= 6a459c1cafd7a1daa5cd137140da60c18c84b5699cd8e7249a79c33342c99d1d

Release notes follow:

fetchmail-6.4.21 (released 2021-08-09, 30042 LoC):

* The new security fix in 6.4.20 for CVE-2021-36386 caused truncation of
  messages logged to buffered outputs, predominantly --logfile.

  This also caused lines in the logfile to run into one another because
  the fragment containing the '\n' line-end character was usually lost.

  Reason is that on all modern systems (with <stdarg.h> header and vsnprintf()
  interface), the length of log message fragments was added up twice, so
  that these ended too deep into a freshly allocated buffer, after the '\0'
  byte.  Unbuffered outputs flushed the fragments right away, which masked the

  Reported by: Jürgen Edner, Erik Christiansen.

Updated security announcement follows:

fetchmail-SA-2021-01: DoS or information disclosure logging long messages

Topics:		fetchmail denial of service or information disclosure when logging long messages

Author:		Matthias Andree
Version:	1.3
Announced:	2021-07-28 (original), 2021-08-09 (last update)
Type:		missing variable initialization can cause read from bad memory
Impact:		fetchmail logs random information, or segfaults and aborts,
		stalling inbound mail
Danger:		low
Acknowledgment:	Christian Herdtweck, Intra2net AG, Tübingen, Germany
		for analysis and report and a patch suggestion

CVE Name:	CVE-2021-36386 and CVE-2008-2711
Project URL:

Affects:	- fetchmail releases up to and including 6.3.8
		- fetchmail releases 6.3.17 up to incl. 6.4.19
		  (but note 6.4.20 regresses for buffered output,
		   f.i. with --logfile)

Not affected:	- fetchmail releases 6.4.21 and newer
		  (fetchmail 6.4.20 fixes the immediate bug but regresses
		   and causes message truncation on buffered output)
		- fetchmail releases 6.3.9 to 6.3.16

Corrected in:	c546c829 + d3db2da1 Git commit hash (both needed)
		2021-08-09 fetchmail 6.4.21 release tarball
		2021-08-03 7.0.0-alpha9/6.5.0-beta4 snapshots

0. Release history

2021-07-07	initial report to maintainer
2021-07-28 1.0	release
2021-07-28 1.1	update Git commit hash with correction
2021-08-03 1.2  add references to CVE-2008-2711/fetchmail-SA-2008-01
2021-08-09 1.3  mention buffered logging regression (--logfile)

1. Background

fetchmail is a software package to retrieve mail from remote POP3, IMAP,
ETRN or ODMR servers and forward it to local SMTP, LMTP servers or
message delivery agents. fetchmail supports SSL and TLS security layers
through the OpenSSL library, if enabled at compile time and if also
enabled at run time, in both SSL/TLS-wrapped mode on dedicated ports as
well as in-band-negotiated "STARTTLS" and "STLS" modes through the
regular protocol ports.

2. Problem description and Impact

Fetchmail has long had support to assemble log/error messages that are
generated piecemeal, and takes care to reallocate the output buffer as needed.
In the reallocation case, i. e. when long log messages are assembled that can
stem from very long headers, and on systems that have a varargs.h/stdarg.h
interface (all modern systems), fetchmail's code would fail to reinitialize
the va_list argument to vsnprintf.

The exact effects depend on the verbose mode (how many -v are given) of
fetchmail, computer architecture, compiler, operating system and
configuration.  On some systems, the code just works without ill effects, some
systems log a garbage message (potentially disclosing sensitive information),
some systems log literally "(null)", some systems trigger SIGSEGV (signal
#11), which crashes fetchmail, causing a denial of service on fetchmail's end.

The same bug then named CVE-2008-2711 had already been fixed in fetchmail 6.3.9,
but a code refactoring in fetchmail 6.3.17 (commit 414a3809 in 2010)
reintroduced the bug.
Fetchmail versions 6.4.19 and older are no longer supported, however.

The bugfix used in 6.4.20 uses a different, more thorough, approach.

3. Solution

Install fetchmail 6.4.21 or newer.

The fetchmail source code is available from

Distributors are encouraged to review the NEWS file and move forward to
6.4.21, rather than backport individual security fixes, because doing so
routinely misses other fixes crucial to fetchmail's proper operation,
for which no security announcements are issued, or documentation,
or translation updates.

The regression fix for the new non-security bug in 6.4.20 that causes
log message truncation simply consists of editing report.c to rotate lines 289
through 291, such that the /corrected/ report.c then looks like this:

   286	    n = snprintf (partial_message + partial_message_size_used,
   287			    partial_message_size - partial_message_size_used,
   288			    message, a1, a2, a3, a4, a5, a6, a7, a8);
   290	    if (n > 0) partial_message_size_used += n;
   291	#endif
   293	    if (unbuffered && partial_message_size_used != 0)

Fetchmail 6.4.X releases have been made with a focus on unchanged user and
program interfaces so as to avoid disruptions when upgrading from 6.3.Z or
6.4.X to 6.4.Y with Y > X.  Care was taken to not change the interface

A. Copyright, License and Non-Warranty

(C) Copyright 2021 by Matthias Andree, <>.
Some rights reserved.

fetchmail-SA-2021-01 © 2021 by Matthias Andree is licensed under CC
BY-ND 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Use the information herein at your own risk.

END of fetchmail-SA-2021-01

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