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Re: Mathematica on Linux /tmp/MathLink vulnerability
From: Henri Salo <henri () nerv fi>
Date: Fri, 14 May 2010 08:08:46 +0300

On Fri, 14 May 2010 11:56:10 +1000
paul.szabo () sydney edu au wrote:

"If you're doing anything technical, think Mathematica --..."
  http://www.wolfram.com/products/mathematica/index.html

Mathematica7 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/.gshmm

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.)

Mathematica uses also /tmp/fonts$$.conf in insecure ways.

Workaround: use command-line math instead of pretty interface.

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

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

Have you requested CVE-identifier for this?

---
Henri Salo

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