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SuSE Security Announcement: Kernel Backdoor (April Fool's joke)

Mar 29, 2001, 15:28 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Roman Drahtmueller)
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 15:48:18 +0200 (MEST)
From: Roman Drahtmueller <draht@suse.de>
To: <suse-security-announce@suse.de>
Subject: [suse-security-announce] Kernel Backdoor (April Fool's joke)

To those involved in Linux security:

The latest release of "Linux-Magazin", a monthly German magazine that focuses
on Linux, contains an article by Mirko Dölle about security problems in the
Linux kernel.

In particular, the article argues that IP packets could be forwarded to the
address (there is a PTR record at gary7.nsa.gov, which has an A
record back to the same address).

Many German Linux users have been calling SuSE support to learn details on
how to deal with this problem, not willing to believe that the article is an
April Fool's joke on security. None of the claims are correct, which makes a
kernel update unnecessary for this particular problem.

Now, as inclined readers of security mailing lists may have noticed, there
are indeed security problems in the Linux kernel. These problems are not
backdoors of any kind, and they are not related to the article mentioned
above. In addition, the known kernel security issues are not remotely
exploitable, which means that local shell access is needed to take advantage
of the weaknesses. The weaknesses allow for a local attacker to gain
superuser access to the system.

 SuSE will provide update packages for the supported distributions 6.3, 6.4,
7.0 and 7.1 shortly that eliminate the known problems. The SuSE kernels are
standard kernels, equipped with a set of patches that introduce drivers and
many other enhancements to the standard Linux kernel. The update packages are
currently being tested and will be available and announced as soon as

As an information for those who compile and install their own kernels: The
freshly released Linux kernel version 2.2.19 fixes the known issues in the
kernel. It should run smoothly on all 6.x SuSE Linux distributions, but
please note that 2.2.19 requires update packages for the lvm and/or the
raidtools (formerly mdutils) package if lvm (logical volume manager) or the
software raid facility of the Linux kernel are used. The lvm package is
available for download from our ftp server ftp.suse.com, the raidtools
package will follow soon.

Roman Drahtmüller,
SuSE Security