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Mathematica8.0.4 on Linux /tmp/MathLink vulnerability
From: paul.szabo () sydney edu au
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2012 08:28:34 +1000

The problem reported for Mathematica became worse at version 8.0.4,
present for the command-line interface "math" also.

Cheers,

Paul Szabo   psz () maths usyd edu au   http://www.maths.usyd.edu.au/u/psz/
School of Mathematics and Statistics   University of Sydney    Australia


---

http://lists.grok.org.uk/pipermail/full-disclosure/2010-May/074548.html
http://www.securityfocus.com/archive/1/511298
http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/40169


Paraphrasing what I wrote on 14 May 2010:

"Mathematica is the world's ultimate application for computations..."
http://www.wolfram.com/products/

Mathematica on Linux uses the /tmp/MathLink directory in insecure ways.
Mathematica creates or re-uses an existing /tmp/MathLink directory, and
overwrites files within and follows symlinks. This type of behaviour is
"known unsafe" on multi-user machines e.g. University login servers.
As a classic example of a symlink attack, if an "attacker" uses:

mkdir /tmp/MathLink; ln -s /home/victim/.bashrc /tmp/MathLink/.shmsrec

then when the victim runs Mathematica his ~/.bashrc will be clobbered.
New files are created world-writable, allowing a complete compromise of
the user account by linking to ~/.bash_logout . (If root ever uses
Mathematica then the damage is greater.)

There is no workaround: the command-line math interface is also unsafe.

Notified support () wolfram com on 7 May 2010, was assigned [TS 16194].


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