Unix GUI in heap big security trouble

CDE ToolTalk bug

The Common Desktop Environment (CDE) ToolTalk RPC database server contains a vulnerability that could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on target systems or cause a denial of service.

That's the gist of a warning issued today by security clearing house CERT which lists a variety of *Nix and Linux systems (including those from Caldera, Compaq, HP, IBM, SGI and Sun) as vulnerable.

It's been found that a vulnerability exists in the ToolTalk Database server (rpc.ttdbserverd daemon), a message brokering sub-component of CDE, in the _TT_CREATE_FILE procedure. CDE is the standard graphical user interface for Unix.

The vulnerability causes heap corruption and, for some architectures, a stack overflow condition. By exploiting the flaw, an attacker can gain root privileges and take full control of the server. The issue was discovered by security tools vendor, Entercept, which has published an alert.

CERT has posted a comprehensive list of the state of patch development by vendors and recommendations on possible workarounds here.

Until patches are available and can be applied, you may wish to block access to the ToolTalk RPC database server and possibly the RPC portmapper service from untrusted networks such as the Internet. More radically, you may consider disabling the ToolTalk RPC database service entirely until a fix comes out. ®

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