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From Randy Terbush <>
Subject CERT Advisory on suidperl
Date Thu, 27 Jun 1996 17:55:01 GMT

I thought this might be of general interest.

------- Forwarded Message

Subject: BoS: CERT Advisory CA-96.12 - Vulnerability in suidperl


CERT(sm) Advisory CA-96.12
June 26, 1996

Topic: Vulnerability in suidperl

- - -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The CERT Coordination Center has received reports of a vulnerability in
systems that contain the suidperl program and that support saved
set-user-ID and saved set-group-ID. By exploiting this vulnerability,
anyone with access to an account on such a system may gain root access.

Saved set-user-IDs and set-group-IDs are sometimes referred to as POSIX
saved IDs. suidperl is also known as sperl followed by a version number,
as in sperl5.002.

Perl versions 4 and 5 can be compiled and installed in such a way that
they will be vulnerable on some systems. If you have installed the
suidperl or sperl programs on a system that supports saved set-user-ID and
set-group-ID, you may be at risk.

The CERT Coordination Center recommends that you first disable the
suidperl and sperl programs (Section III.A). If you need the
functionality, we further recommend that you either apply a patch for
this problem or install Perl version 5.003 (Section III.B). If neither
a patch nor a new version are viable alternatives, we recommend 
installing the wrapper written by Larry Wall as a workaround for this
problem (Section III.C).

As we receive additional information relating to this advisory, we will
place it in

We encourage you to check our README files regularly for updates on
advisories that relate to your site.

- - -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I.   Description

     On some systems, setuid and setgid scripts (scripts written in the
     C shell, Bourne shell, or Perl, for example, with the set user or
     group ID permissions enabled) are insecure due to a race condition in
     the kernel. For those systems, Perl versions 4 and 5 attempt to work
     around this vulnerability with a special program named suidperl, also 
     known as sperl. Even on systems that do provide a secure mechanism for
     setuid and setgid scripts, suidperl may also be installed--although it 
     is not needed. 

     suidperl attempts to emulate the set-user-ID and set-group-ID
     features of the kernel. Depending on whether the script is
     set-user-ID, set-group-ID, or both, suidperl achieves this emulation
     by first changing its effective user or group ID to that of the
     original Perl script. suidperl then reads and executes the script as
     that effective user or group. To do these user and group ID changes
     correctly, suidperl must be installed as set-user-ID root.

     On systems that support saved set-user-ID and set-group-ID, suidperl
     does not properly relinquish its root privileges when changing its
     effective user and group IDs.

II.  Impact

     On a system that has the suidperl or sperl program installed and
     that supports saved set-user-ID and saved set-group-ID, anyone with
     access to an account on the system can gain root access.

III. Solution

     The command in Section A helps you determine if your system is
     vulnerable and, if it is, optionally disables the suidperl and
     sperl programs that it locates. After you have run this command
     on all of your systems, your system will no longer be vulnerable.

     If you find that your system is vulnerable, then you need to replace
     the suidperl and sperl programs with new versions. Section B describes
     how to do that.

     Finally, Section C identifies a wrapper that can be used in place of
     the suidperl program.

     A. How to determine if your system is vulnerable

        To determine if a system is vulnerable to this problem and to
        disable the programs that are believed to be vulnerable, use the
        following find command or a variant. Consult your local system
        documentation to determine how to tailor the find program on your

        You will need to run the find command on each system you maintain
        because the command examines files on the local disk only. Substitute
        the names of your local file systems for FILE_SYSTEM_NAMES in the
        example. Example local file system names are /, /usr, and /var.
        You must do this as root.

        Note that this is one long command, though we have separated
        it onto three lines using back-slashes.

             find FILE_SYSTEM_NAMES -xdev -type f -user root \
                    \( -name 'sperl[0-9].[0-9][0-9][0-9]' -o -name \
                    'suidperl' \) -perm -04000 -print -ok chmod ug-s '{}' \;

        This command will find all files on a system that are
            - only in the file system you name (FILE_SYSTEM_NAMES -xdev)
            - regular files (-type f)
            - owned by root (-user root)
            - named appropriately (-name 'sperl[0-9].[0-9][0-9][0-9]'
                                    -o -name 'suidperl')
            - setuid root (-perm -04000)

        Once found, those files will
            - have their names printed (-print)
            - have their modes changed, but only if you type `y'
              in response to the prompt (-ok chown ug-s '{}' \;)

     B. Obtain and install the appropriate patch according to the
        instructions included with the patch.

        Vendor patches
        You may be vulnerable if your vendor supports saved set-user-ID
        and set-group-ID and ships suidperl or sperl. You need to get
        a patched version from your vendor. Appendix A contains
        information provided by vendors as of the date of this advisory.
        When we receive updated information, we will put it in CA-96.12.README.

        Until you can install a patch, we recommend disabling suidperl.
        The find command above will help you do that. If you need
        suidperl or sperl, an alternative is to install the wrapper
        described in Section C.

        Source code patches
        If you have installed Perl from source code, you should install
        source code patches. Patches are available from the CPAN
        (Comprehensive Perl Archive Network) archives.

        Patch for Perl Version 4:
            File                src/fixsuid4-0.pat
            MD5 Checksum        af3e3c40bbaafce134714f1381722496

        Patch for Perl Version 5:
            File                src/fixsuid5-0.pat
            MD5 Checksum        135c96ee400fd37a38a7ef37edd489e9

        In addition, Perl version 5.003 contains this patch, so installing
        it on your system also addresses this vulnerability. Perl 5.003 is
        available from the CPAN archives. Here are the specifics:

            File                src/5.0/perl5.003.tar.gz
            MD5 Checksum        b1bb23995cd25e5b750585bfede0e8a5

        The CPAN archives can be found at the following locations:

        CPAN master site





        North America

        C. If you need setuid or setgid Perl scripts and are unable to apply
           the source code patches listed in Section B, we suggest that you
           retrieve Larry Wall's fixsperl script noted below. fixsperl is a
           script that replaces the suidperl and sperl programs with a wrapper
           that eliminates the vulnerability. The script is available from the
           CPAN archives as

            File                src/fixsperl-0
            MD5 Checksum        f13900d122a904a8453a0af4c1bdddc6

           Note that this script should be run one time, naming every suidperl
           or sperl file on your system. If you add another version of
           suidperl or sperl to your system, then you must run fixsperl 
           on those newly installed versions.

- - ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
The CERT Coordination Center staff thanks Paul Traina, Larry Wall, Eric
Allman, Tom Christiansen, and AUSCERT for their support in the development
of this advisory.
- - ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you believe that your system has been compromised, contact the CERT
Coordination Center or your representative in the Forum of Incident
Response and Security Teams (FIRST).

We strongly urge you to encrypt any sensitive information you send by
email. The CERT Coordination Center can support a shared DES key and PGP.
Contact the CERT staff for more information.

Location of CERT PGP key:

CERT Contact Information
- - ------------------------

Phone    +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
                CERT personnel answer 8:30-5:00 p.m. EST
                (GMT-5)/EDT(GMT-4), and are on call for
                emergencies during other hours.

Fax      +1 412-268-6989

Postal address
        CERT Coordination Center
        Software Engineering Institute
        Carnegie Mellon University
        Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890

CERT publications, information about FIRST representatives, and other
security-related information are available for anonymous FTP from

CERT advisories and bulletins are also posted on the USENET newsgroup

To be added to our mailing list for CERT advisories and bulletins, send your
email address to

Copyright 1996 Carnegie Mellon University
This material may be reproduced and distributed without permission provided
it is used for non-commercial purposes and the copyright statement is

CERT is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.

Appendix A: Vendor Information

Current as of June 26, 1996
See CA-96.12.README for updated information.

Below is information we have received from vendors concerning the
vulnerability described in this advisory. If you do not see your vendor's
name, please contact the vendor directly for information.

Apple Computer, Inc.
        A/UX 3.1.1 and earlier support saved set-{user,group}-ids.

        A/UX 3.1.1 and earlier do not have Perl as part of the standard

Data General Corporation
        Data General does support saved set-user-IDs and set-group-IDs on

        Data General does not ship suidperl or sperl* with DG/UX.

Hewlett-Packard Company
        HP/UX versions 8.X, 9.X, and 10.X all support saved set-user-id.

        None of HP/UX versions 8.X, 9.X, and 10.X have Perl as part of the
        standard product.

IBM Corporation
        AIX versions 3.2.5 and 4.X support saved set-user-id.

        AIX versions 3.2.5 and 4.X do not have Perl as part of the standard
        product. However, the SP2's PSSP software does contain suidperl, but
        the program is not installed with the setuid bit set.

        Linux 1.2 and 2.0 support saved set-user-id.

        Most distributions of Linux provide suidperl and sperl.

        The fixsperl script works on linux, and it is recommended that this
        fix be applied until a new Perl release is made.

Open Software Foundation
         OSF/1 1.3 or later support saved set-user-id

         OSF/1 1.3 or later does not have Perl as part of the standard

Sony Corporation
        NEWS-OS 4.X does not support saved set-user-id and therefore any
        version of Perl on that system is not vulnerable.

        NEWS-OS 6.X does support saved set-user-id.
        None of's development systems are vulnerable to the saved
        set-user-IDs and set-group-IDs problems, and suidperl is not shipped
        with either of our products.

Version: 2.6.2


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