Follow @Openwall on Twitter for new release announcements and other news
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [thread-next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2023 20:30:18 +0200
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: CVE-2023-4911: Local Privilege Escalation in the glibc's


Thanks Qualys for the impressive research on this, as is usual for you.
Also thank you to the upstream maintainer Siddhesh Poyarekar for staying
on top of this issue.

This is now fixed in upstream glibc:;a=commit;h=1056e5b4c3f2d90ed2b4a55f96add28da2f4c8fa

> commit 1056e5b4c3f2d90ed2b4a55f96add28da2f4c8fa (HEAD -> master, origin/master, origin/HEAD)
> Author: Siddhesh Poyarekar <>
> Date:   Tue Sep 19 18:39:32 2023 -0400
>     tunables: Terminate if end of input is reached (CVE-2023-4911)
>     The string parsing routine may end up writing beyond bounds of tunestr
>     if the input tunable string is malformed, of the form name=name=val.
>     This gets processed twice, first as name=name=val and next as name=val,
>     resulting in tunestr being name=name=val:name=val, thus overflowing
>     tunestr.
>     Terminate the parsing loop at the first instance itself so that tunestr
>     does not overflow.
>     This also fixes up tst-env-setuid-tunables to actually handle failures
>     correct and add new tests to validate the fix for this CVE.
>     Signed-off-by: Siddhesh Poyarekar <>
>     Reviewed-by: Carlos O'Donell <>

For those wondering, the preceding related commit is _not_ part of the
security fix, as we discussed privately:

> commit 0d5f9ea97f1b39f2a855756078771673a68497e1
> Author: Siddhesh Poyarekar <>
> Date:   Tue Sep 19 13:25:40 2023 -0400
>     Propagate GLIBC_TUNABLES in setxid binaries
>     GLIBC_TUNABLES scrubbing happens earlier than envvar scrubbing and some
>     tunables are required to propagate past setxid boundary, like their
>     env_alias.  Rely on tunable scrubbing to clean out GLIBC_TUNABLES like
>     before, restoring behaviour in glibc 2.37 and earlier.
>     Signed-off-by: Siddhesh Poyarekar <>
>     Reviewed-by: Carlos O'Donell <>

(It actually re-exposes the risky functionality somewhat more.)

On Tue, Oct 03, 2023 at 05:50:36PM +0000, Qualys Security Advisory wrote:
> Recently, we discovered a vulnerability (a buffer overflow) in the
> dynamic loader's processing of the GLIBC_TUNABLES environment variable
> ( This
> vulnerability was introduced in April 2021 (glibc 2.34) by commit 2ed18c
> ("Fix SXID_ERASE behavior in setuid programs (BZ #27471)").

> Last-minute note: although glibc 2.34 is vulnerable to this buffer
> overflow, its tunables_strdup() uses __sbrk(), not __minimal_malloc()
> (which was introduced in glibc 2.35 by commit b05fae, "elf: Use the
> minimal malloc on tunables_strdup"); we have not yet investigated
> whether glibc 2.34 is exploitable or not.

RHEL 8 includes a backport of the problematic commit 2ed18c5b534d in
glibc-rh1934155-6.patch starting with:

* Wed Apr 14 2021 Siddhesh Poyarekar <> - 2.28-157
- Consistently SXID_ERASE tunables in sxid binaries (#1934155)

So RHEL (rebuild) distros of both RHEL 8 and RHEL 9 contain the bug.
However, Qualys' specific exploitation method shouldn't work against
them.  It is not currently known whether another exploitation method
exists that would work on pre-2.35 glibc such as RHEL's backports.

The one-line reproducer from Qualys:

> $ env -i "GLIBC_TUNABLES=glibc.malloc.mxfast=glibc.malloc.mxfast=A" "Z=`printf '%08192x' 1`" /usr/bin/su --help

does cause a segfault on (rebuilds of) both RHEL 8 and 9 that I tested.

Besides the proper upstream fix, a mitigation is to exclude tunables
support for SUID/SGID programs, which ALT Linux did in:;a=commitdiff;h=5d1686416ab766f3dd0780ab730650c4c0f76ca9

I briefly tested my port of this (along with the rest of ALT Linux's
glibc environment sanitization changes) to a RHEL 9 rebuild modified
glibc package today (as now pushed to Rocky Linux Security SIG repo),
and it seems to work as intended (the reproducer does not segfault
anymore, but another tunable still has effect in my test on an
unprivileged program).


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.