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CERT Vendor-Initiated Bulletin VB-98.04 - xterm.Xaw
From: aleph1 () NATIONWIDE NET (Aleph One)
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 19:32:10 -0500

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 17:22:57 -0400
From: CERT Bulletin <cert-advisory () cert org>
Reply-To: cert-advisory-request () cert org
To: cert-advisory () coal cert org
Subject: CERT Vendor-Initiated Bulletin VB-98.04 - xterm.Xaw


CERT* Vendor-Initiated Bulletin VB-98.04
April 27, 1998

Topic: Vulnerabilities in xterm and Xaw
Source: The Open Group

To aid in the wide distribution of essential security information, the
CERT Coordination Center is forwarding the following information from
The Open Group. The Open Group urges you to act on this information as
soon as possible. Further questions about these vulnerabilities should
be directed to your vendor or support personnel.

=======================FORWARDED TEXT STARTS HERE============================
             The Open Group X Project Team Security Advisory

        Title:   xterm and Xaw library vulnerability
        Date:    April 27, 1998

The Open Group X Project Team provides this information freely to the X11
user community for its consideration, interpretation, implementation and use.
The Open Group X Project Team recommends that this information be acted upon
as soon as possible.

The Open Group X Project Team provides the information in this Security
Advisory on an "AS-IS" basis only, and disclaims all warranties with respect
thereto, express, implied or otherwise, including, without limitation, any
warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.  In no event
shall The Open Group be liable for any loss of profits, loss of business, loss
of data or for any indirect, special, exemplary, incidental or consequential
damages of any kind arising from your use of, failure to use or improper
use of any of the instructions or information in this Security Advisory.

I. Description

Vulnerabilities exist in the terminal emulator xterm(1), and the Xaw
library distributed in various MIT X Consortium; X Consortium, Inc.;
and The Open Group X Project Team releases. These vulnerabilities may
be exploited by an intruder to gain root access.

The resources and the releases affected by the xterm vulnerability are:

                 inputMethod       preeditType      *Keymap
    X11R3           NO                 NO             YES
    X11R4           NO                 NO             YES
    X11R5           NO                 NO             YES
    X11R6           NO                 NO             YES
    X11R6.1         YES                YES            YES
    X11R6.2         YES                YES            YES
    X11R6.3         YES                YES            YES
    X11R6.4         YES                YES            YES

The resources and the releases affected by the Xaw library
vulnerability are

                 inputMethod       preeditType
    X11R6           YES                YES
    X11R6.1         YES                YES
    X11R6.2         YES                YES
    X11R6.3         YES                YES
    X11R6.4         YES                YES

(X11R6.2 was not released to the public.)

The Open Group X Project Team has investigated the issue and recommends
the following steps for neutralizing the exposure. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
that these measures be implemented on ALL vulnerable systems. This issue
will be corrected in future X Project Team releases of X11.

- - - --------------
- - - --- Impact ---
- - - --------------

By crafting an arbitrarily long string that contains embedded machine code
and using it to set specific "resources", a user may obtain a shell prompt
that has root privileges.

Anyone using the MIT X Consortium; X Consortium, Inc.; or X Project Team
xterm and that has xterm installed setuid-root may be vulnerable.

Anyone using an xterm based on any of the sources listed above may
also be vulnerable to the xterm vulnerability.

In order to be vulnerable to the Xaw library vulnerability, the Xaw
Text widget must be used by a setuid-root program. Anyone using an
Xaw replacement based on any of the released versions of Xaw listed
above (e.g. Xaw3d) may also be vulnerable to the Xaw vulnerability.

- - - --------------------------
- - - --- Temporary Solution  ---
- - - --------------------------

     1) Become the root user on the system.

                % /bin/su -

     2) Remove the setuid-root bit from the xterm binary.

                # chmod 0755 <path-to-xterm>/xterm

For the Xaw vulnerability, remove the suid-root bit from any programs
which use the Xaw text widget.

 2) Remove the setuid-root bit from the binary.

                # chmod 0755 <setuid-root-program>

- - - ----------------
- - - --- Solution ---
- - - ----------------

Patches to address this vulnerability have been given to X Project Team

    BARCO Chromatics
    CliniComp International
    Hummingbird Communications
    Jupiter Systems
    Metro Link
    Network Computing Devices
    Seaweed Systems
    Sequent Computer Systems
    Shiman Associates
    Silicon Graphics
    Societe Axel
    Siemens Nixdorf
    Xi Graphics

The X Project Team periodically makes public patches available to fix a
variety of problems. Announcements about the availability of these patches
is announced on the Usenet comp.windows.x.announce newsgroup. The patches,
when they become available, may be found on ftp://ftp.x.org/pub/R6.4/fixes/.
The X Project Team only supplies patches for the latest release -- we do
not make patches for prior releases.

Information on joining The Open Group can be found at


========================FORWARDED TEXT ENDS HERE=============================

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). See http://www.first.org/team-info/.

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
- ------------------------
Email    cert () cert org

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 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
        cert-advisory-request () cert org
In the subject line, type
        SUBSCRIBE  your-email-address

* Registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The CERT Coordination Center is part of the Software Engineering
Institute (SEI). The SEI is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Defense.

This file: ftp://ftp.cert.org/pub/cert_bulletins/VB-98.04.xterm.Xaw

Version: 2.6.2


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