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[mwrlabs advisory][CVE-2014-0748] Cray Aprun/Apinit Privilege Escalation
From: john.fitzpatrick () mwrinfosecurity com
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 20:16:33 GMT

Cray Aprun/Apinit Privilege Escalation

MWR have identified a vulnerability which allows users to escalate their privileges to root on Cray supercomputers. 
This advisory details the vulnerability and the patches which Cray customers can apply in order to mitigate this issue.

[Software]: Aprun/apinit (Cray)
[Affected Versions]: This issue was resolved in CLE 5.1.UP00 & CLE 4.2.UP02
[CVE Reference]: CVE-2014-0748
[Authors]: John Fitzpatrick & Luke Jennings
[Severity]: High Risk
[Vendor]: Cray inc.
[Vendor Response]: Acknowledged, resolved, update provided

Apinit and aprun are utilities used to schedule tasks on Cray supercomputers. Apinit runs as a service on compute 
nodes, and aprun is used to communicate with these nodes.

The apinit service does not safely validate messages supplied to it through the use of aprun. Users of Cray systems are 
able to exploit this weakness in order to execute commands on the compute nodes of a Cray supercomputer as arbitrary 
users, including root (UID 0).

Successful exploitation allows code execution as root on a compute node.

The vulnerability is caused due to a failure to appropriately validate the content of launch messages sent from the 
aprun utility.

Interim Workaround
N/A, Cray have provided appropriate patches for this issue.

Cray have addressed this issue in CLE 5.1.UP00 and CLE 4.2.UP02. Applying these updates will mitigate this issue. The 
Cray ID for this issue is FN5912.

Technical Details
On Cray supercomputers, the aprun command provides an interface for users to submit jobs for execution on compute 
nodes. An example of this is as follows:

gibson$ aprun <command>

When aprun is executed, it receives a placement list of nodes from the Application Level Placement Scheduler (ALPS) 
detailing the compute nodes available for execution of the job. On receiving this listing, aprun then sends a launch 
message to the apinit daemon running on the first compute node in this list. The launch message contains various pieces 
of information, including the user ID (UID) under which the job will be executed. However, it was found that apinit was 
not validating the UID received from within this message against the trusted UID received over the privileged alpsauth 
connection. As a result, when apinit forks its child process (referred to as the apshepherd or just shepherd process) 
to launch and manage the application, the application is run under the UID specified in this launch message.

The UID within the launch message is determined by a call to getuid(), and therefore is controllable by the calling 
user. For example, an attacker could patch the return value from this call at runtime as aprun executes. This attack 
can be performed by any user of the system to escalate privileges to any other system user.

Detailed Timeline
Date     Summary
19/07/2013       Issue reported to Cray
19/07/2013       Acknowledgement by Cray and further details provided
20/07/2013       Issue corrected and testing underway
25/07/2013       Testing completed, patch distributed to Cray customers


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