Feeds

Bug exposes eight years of Linux kernel

Passes it's-not-crying-wolf test

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Linux developers have issued a critical update for the open-source OS after researchers uncovered a vulnerability in its kernel that puts most versions built in the past eight years at risk of complete takeover.

The bug involves the way kernel-level routines such as sock_sendpage react when they are left unimplemented. Instead of linking to a corresponding placeholder, (for example, sock_no_accept), the function pointer is left uninitialized. Sock_sendpage doesn't always validate the pointer before dereferencing it, leaving the OS open to local privilege escalation that can completely compromise the underlying machine.

"Since it leads to the kernel executing code at NULL, the vulnerability is as trivial as it can get to exploit," security researcher Julien Tinnes writes here. "An attacker can just put code in the first page that will get executed with kernel privileges."

Tinnes and fellow researcher Tavis Ormandy released proof-of-concept code that they said took just a few minutes to adapt from a previous exploit they had. They said all 2.4 and 2.6 versions since May 2001 are affected.

Security researchers not involved in the discovery were still studying the advisory at time of writing, but at least one of them said it appeared at first blush to warrant immediate action.

"This passes my it's-not-crying-wolf test so far," said Rodney Thayer, CTO of security research firm Secorix. "If I had some kind of enterprise-class Linux system like a Red Hat Enterprise Linux...I would really go check and see if this looked like it related, and if my vendor was on top of it and did I need to get a kernel patch."

This is the second time in less than a month that a serious security vulnerability has been reported in the Linux kernel. In mid July, a researcher alerted Linux developers to a separate "NULL pointer dereference" bug that put newer versions at risk of complete compromise. The bug, which was located in several parts of the kernel, attracted plenty of notice because it bit even when SELinux, or Security-Enhanced Linux, implementations were running.

More about the latest vulnerability is here, and additional details about the patch are here. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.