Last revised: March 10, 1998
Updated vendor information for DEC.
A complete revision history is at the end of this file.
The CERT Coordination Center has learned of a vulnerability in /bin/login. This vulnerability potentially affects all IBM AIX 3 systems and Linux systems. At this time, we believe that only IBM AIX 3 and Linux systems are at risk.
Included with this advisory is an appendix that lists the vendors who have responded to our inquiries, and the status of their investigation into this vulnerability report. We will update this advisory as we receive additional information.
I. Description of IBM AIX vulnerabilityA vulnerability exists in /bin/login on all IBM AIX 3 systems.
II. Impact of IBM AIX vulnerabilityRemote users can obtain unauthorized root access on the affected hosts.
III. Solution for IBM AIX vulnerabilityIBM is working on an official fix, which is still under development. The reference number for this fix is APAR IX44254. Until you obtain the official fix from IBM, we encourage you to apply the workaround or install the emergency fix below.
A. WorkaroundThe recommended workaround is to disable the rlogin daemon:
1. As root, edit /etc/inetd.confComment out the line 'login ... rlogin'
2. Run 'inetimp'
3. Run 'refresh -s inetd'
B. Emergency fixThe emergency fix for the different levels of AIX 3 affected by this vulnerability is available via anonymous FTP from software.watson.ibm.com:/pub/rlogin/rlogin.tar.Z. Installation instructions are included in the README file (which is included in rlogin.tar.Z).
Checksum information for rlogin.tar.Z: BSD: 25285 317 SystemV: 13021 633 rlogin.tar.Z MD5: MD5 (rlogin.tar.Z) = 803ee38c2e3b8c8c575e2ff5e921034c
C. Official fixThe official fix for this problem can be ordered as APAR IX44254.
To order an APAR from IBM in the U.S., call 1-800-237-5511 and ask IBM to ship it as soon as it is available. According to IBM, this fix will be available in approximately two weeks. APARs may be obtained outside the U.S. by contacting your local IBM representative.
IV. Description of Linux vulnerabilityA vulnerability exists in /bin/login for Linux systems.
V. Impact of Linux vulnerabilityAny user, remote or local, can obtain unauthorized root access on the affected hosts.
VI. Solution for Linux vulnerabilityA set of tools has been released by Florian La Roche <firstname.lastname@example.org> under the name "NetKit." It is available via the FTP sites listed below. An excerpt from the README provides the following general information:
This directory contains a collection of net source programs for LINUX.
NetKit-A A is the first character in the alphabet -> basic things contains a collection of LINUX-specific programs and several small utility programs found somewhere in the Internet or on News (contains also net-032 from Alan Cox) NetKit-B B like BSD, even if we only think about LINUX contains source code derived from NetBSD NetKit-M M like mail contains context diffs and some source code to make a good mail system NetKit-N N like news contains context diffs for a good News system (news readers and also INN for your own newsfeed) NetKit-X X like eXtra will maybe be necessary, if NetKit-A grows too large sunacm.swan.ac.uk:/pub/misc/Linux/Networking/PROGRAMS/Packages ------------------------------------------------------------------------ MD5 (NetKit-A-0.05.bin.tar.gz) = afe45e04f359b0ff99e66cc58b4e758c MD5 (NetKit-A-0.05.tar.gz) = a17fae1b58e1cf8a79aef30296f65672 MD5 (NetKit-A-0.06.bin.tar.gz) = e0f813427341b070ab9f8374ad721134 MD5 (NetKit-A-0.06.tar.gz) = adb00607cb2887c44f5aa8981fb8120b MD5 (NetKit-B-0.04.bin.tar.gz) = ffe7099a0271a85eb22c78f7c3373bc6 MD5 (NetKit-B-0.04.tar.gz) = 156be1d3571b1681485b47255f7e202c MD5 (NetKit-B-0.05.bin.tar.gz) = 3b270017ce28328c5596291e6d2687f0 MD5 (NetKit-B-0.05.tar.gz) = ba2327f741a265edc252e86b442a0a0d MD5 (NetKit-M-0.01.tar.gz) = 392cbe6454965ad0d9e12f98af4cdd4a MD5 (NetKit-N-0.01.tar.gz) = 55957726205a52621a15938c3bea593b sunsite.unc.edu:/pub/Linux/system/Network/sunacm ------------------------------------------------------------------------ MD5 (NetKit-A-0.05.bin.tar.gz) = afe45e04f359b0ff99e66cc58b4e758c MD5 (NetKit-A-0.05.tar.gz) = a17fae1b58e1cf8a79aef30296f65672 MD5 (NetKit-A-0.06.bin.tar.gz) = e0f813427341b070ab9f8374ad721134 MD5 (NetKit-A-0.06.tar.gz) = adb00607cb2887c44f5aa8981fb8120b MD5 (NetKit-B-0.04.bin.tar.gz) = ffe7099a0271a85eb22c78f7c3373bc6 MD5 (NetKit-B-0.04.tar.gz) = 156be1d3571b1681485b47255f7e202c MD5 (NetKit-B-0.05.bin.tar.gz) = 3b270017ce28328c5596291e6d2687f0 MD5 (NetKit-B-0.05.tar.gz) = ba2327f741a265edc252e86b442a0a0d MD5 (NetKit-M-0.01.tar.gz) = 392cbe6454965ad0d9e12f98af4cdd4a MD5 (NetKit-N-0.01.tar.gz) = 55957726205a52621a15938c3bea593bTo address the local access problem, we encourage you to install a version of /bin/login that does not allow the -f option in the form "-f<user>", but only allows this option in the form "-f <user>", as two arguments. At this time, we do not know which versions of login.c are vulnerable.
AppendixWe have received feedback from the following, who indicated that their products are not vulnerable:
Digital Equipment Corporation
IBM - Please see Sec. III, "Solution for IBM AIX vulnerability" for details.
Official patch: APAR IX44254.
Emergency fix: Available via anonymous FTP from:
This directory contains the latest available emergency fix for APAR IX44254. As updates become available, any new versions will be placed in this directory with the name rlogin<#>.tar.Z with <#> being incremented for each update. See the README.FIRST file in that directory for details.
"Netkit" is available from
The CERT Coordination Center wishes to thank Axel Clauberg of University of Cologne for reporting the IBM AIX problem, and IBM for their assistance in responding to this problem.
UPDATESWe are aware that there have been several /bin/login wrapper programs posted as proposed workarounds for this vulnerability. None of the wrappers that CERT has reviewed have fully addressed all aspects of this vulnerability. CERT will not undertake any further review of such wrappers. Instead, we encourage sites to apply the appropriate workaround or patches available, as described in CA-94.09.bin.login.vulnerability.
Frequently Asked Question about this CERT advisory:
Question: Why is rshd not mentioned in this advisory?
Answer: From the man page for RSH(1C):
rsh hostname [ -l username ] [ -n ] [ command ]rsh connects to the specified hostname and executes the specified command.
If you omit [ command ], instead of executing a single command, rsh logs you in on the remote host using rlogin(1C).
rsh hostname [ -l username ] [ -n ]Exploitation of the vulnerability via rsh requires the use of rlogind, which then invokes /bin/login.
Exploitation of this vulnerability by this method is addressed by this advisory.
CERT/CC are not aware of any exploitation method for this vulnerability via the following usage:
rsh hostname [ -l username ] [ -n ] command
Copyright 1994 Carnegie Mellon University.
Mar. 10, 1998 Updated vendor information for DEC. Sep. 23, 1997 Updated copyright statement Aug. 30, 1996 Information previously in the README was inserted into the advisory. The result is a major update to patch information in Sections III and VI. Mar. 29, 1996 Updates section - Removed duplicate information from the "Frequently Asked Question" section Feb. 02, 1995 Section III - Updated Linux patch information May 27, 1994 Updates section - Included caveat concerning other /bin/login wrapper programs and comments about rshd