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Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:15:44 +0100
From: Simon McVittie <>
Subject: Re: Healing the bash fork

On 30/09/14 15:27, Michal Zalewski wrote:
>> Florian's prefix/suffix patch is not going to protect against the
>> setuid/setgid exploit that I reported to this list last week.
> You do realize that your setuid program is patently unsafe, right?
> Say:
> $ echo -e '#!/bin/sh\necho pwn3d' >date;chmod 755 date;PATH=.:$PWD 
> ./setuid_program
> pwn3d

Other ways to attack this "simple, easy and wrong" setuid program
include LD_PRELOAD and, depending on implementation details, any of:

LD_LIBRARY_PATH (if sh(1) and/or date(1) is dynamically-linked)
ENV (if sh(1) is ksh, at least according to sudo source code)
BASH_ENV (if sh(1) is bash)
PYTHONPATH (if you replace date(1) with any Python script)
PERL5LIB (if you replace date(1) with any Perl script)
DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS (if you replace date(1) with something that
uses D-Bus)

and that's without getting into odd corners of Unix which are not
directly executed, but can be used to construct a more subtle
vulnerability (e.g. IFS).

Several of these are "disarmed" if ruid != euid (e.g. D-Bus, to address
CVE-2012-3524), but by calling setresuid() you lost that protection. If
you're going to do that, there is little that libraries or executables
can do to save you.

sudo attempts to have a comprehensive blacklist (plugins/sudoers/env.c
in my copy) but IMO, its length demonstrates that any blacklist-based
approach is unsustainable. I continue to believe that any setuid program
that executes non-trivial code without whitelist-filtering its
environment is seriously flawed; and sh(1), as invoked by system(), is
certainly non-trivial.

Or to put it another way, executables that make themselves a privilege
boundary can't trust what they receive from outside the boundary, and
need to take responsibility for passing a sanitized version to things
inside the boundary - doubly so if the things inside the boundary have
no way to detect that a privilege boundary was ever crossed.


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