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15/01/02, CERT Advisory CA-2002-01 Exploitation of Vulnerability in CDE Subprocess
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Subject: CERT Advisory CA-2002-01 Exploitation of Vulnerability in CDE Subprocess
From: CERT Advisory <>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 11:59:15 -0500 (EST)
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Organization: CERT(R) Coordination Center - +1 412-268-7090


CERT Advisory CA-2002-01 Exploitation of Vulnerability in CDE Subprocess
Control Service

   Original release date: January 14, 2002
   Last revised: --
   Source: CERT/CC

   A complete revision history can be found at the end of this file.

Systems Affected

     * Systems running CDE


   The CERT/CC has received credible reports of scanning and exploitation
   of  Solaris  systems running the CDE Subprocess Control Service buffer
   overflow  vulnerability  identified  in  CA-2001-31  and  discussed in

I. Description

   Since  CA-2001-31  was  originally released last November, the CERT/CC
   has received reports of scanning for dtspcd (6112/tcp). Just recently,
   however,  we  have received credible reports of an exploit for Solaris
   systems.  Using  network  traces  provided by The Honeynet Project, we
   have  confirmed that the dtspcd vulnerability identified in CA-2001-31
   and discussed in VU#172583 is actively being exploited.

   The  Common  Desktop Environment (CDE) is an integrated graphical user
   interface  that  runs  on  UNIX  and  Linux operating systems. The CDE
   Subprocess  Control  Service (dtspcd) is a network daemon that accepts
   requests  from  clients  to  execute  commands and launch applications
   remotely.  On  systems  running CDE, dtspcd is spawned by the Internet
   services  daemon  (typically  inetd  or  xinetd)  in response to a CDE
   client request. dtspcd is typically configured to run on port 6112/tcp
   with root privileges.

   There  is  a  remotely  exploitable buffer overflow vulnerability in a
   shared  library  that  is  used  by dtspcd. During client negotiation,
   dtspcd  accepts  a  length  value  and subsequent data from the client
   without performing adequate input validation. As a result, a malicious
   client can manipulate data sent to dtspcd and cause a buffer overflow,
   potentially  executing  code with root privileges. The overflow occurs
   in  a fixed-size 4K buffer that is exploited by the contents of one of
   the  attack  packets. The signature can be found at bytes 0x3e-0x41 in
   the following attack packet from a tcpdump log (lines may wrap):

   09:46:04.378306 > P 1:1449(1448) ack
   1 win 16060 <nop,nop,timestamp 463986683 4158792> (DF)
   0x0000         4500    05dc    a1ac   4000   3006   241c   0a0a   0a01
   0x0010         0a0a    0a02    0e08   17e0   fee2   c115   5f66   192f
   0x0020         8018    3ebc    e1e9   0000   0101   080a   1ba7   dffb
   0x0030         003f    7548    3030   3030   3030   3032   3034   3130
   0x0040         3365    3030    3031   2020   3420   0000   0031   3000
   0x0050         801c    4011    801c   4011   1080   0101   801c   4011
   0x0060         801c    4011    801c   4011   801c   4011   801c   4011

   The  value  0x103e in the ASCII (right) column above is interpreted by
   the  server  as  the  number  of  bytes in the packet to copy into the
   internal  4K (0x1000) buffer. Since 0x103e is greater than 0x1000, the
   last  0x3e  bytes of the packet will overwrite memory after the end of
   the  4K  buffer.  This  is  the  same  compromise vector identified in

   It  is  important to note that several Internet-enabled games may also
   use  port  6112/tcp  as  a  legitimate part of their normal operation,
   therefore,  not  all  network  activity  involving this service may be
   malicious. Network administrators monitoring this type of activity may
   wish  to  verify  whether probes of this type are actually attempts to
   exploit VU#172583.

   Many  common  UNIX  systems  ship  with  CDE  installed and enabled by
   default.  To  determine  if  your  system is configured to run dtspcd,
   check for the following entries (lines may wrap):

   in /etc/services

      dtspc 6112/tcp

   in /etc/inetd.conf

      dtspc   stream   tcp   nowait   root   /usr/dt/bin/dtspcd 

   Any system that does not run the CDE Subprocess Control Service is not
   vulnerable to this problem.

II. Impact

   An attacker can execute arbitrary code with root privileges.

III. Solution

Apply a patch

   VU#172583   contains   information  from  vendors  who  have  provided
   information  for  this advisory. We will update the vulnerability note
   as  we  receive  more information. If a vendor's name does not appear,
   then  the  CERT/CC  did not hear from that vendor. Please contact your
   vendor directly.

   Vendor  information  can be found in the "Systems Affected" section of

Limit access to vulnerable service

   Until  patches are available and can be applied, you may wish to limit
   or  block  access  to  the  Subprocess  Control Service from untrusted
   networks   such   as   the   Internet.   Using  a  firewall  or  other
   packet-filtering technology, block or restrict access to the port used
   by the Subprocess Control Service. As noted above, dtspcd is typically
   configured  to  listen on port 6112/tcp. It may be possible to use TCP
   Wrapper or a similar technology to provide improved access control and
   logging  functionality  for  dtspcd  connections.  Keep  in  mind that
   blocking  ports at a network perimeter does not protect the vulnerable
   service  from the internal network. It is important to understand your
   network  configuration  and  service requirements before deciding what
   changes are appropriate.

   TCP Wrapper is available from

Disable vulnerable service

   You  may  wish  to  consider  disabling  dtspcd  by commenting out the
   appropriate  entry in /etc/inetd.conf. As a best practice, the CERT/CC
   recommends disabling any services that are not explicitly required. As
   noted  above,  it  is important to consider the consequences of such a
   change in your environment.

Appendix A. - References


   The  CERT  Coordination  Center  thanks The Honeynet Project for their
   assistance in providing network traces of the exploitation.

   Authors: Allen Householder and Art Manion

   This document is available from:

CERT/CC Contact Information

          Phone: +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
          Fax: +1 412-268-6989
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          CERT Coordination Center
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          Carnegie Mellon University
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   Copyright 2001 Carnegie Mellon University.

   Revision History

   January 14, 2002:  Initial release

Version: PGP 6.5.8


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