Confusion over serious Notes, Domino vulns
If we tell you what's wrong, we'd have to kill you
Lotus Notes and Domino are subject to an unholy trio of serious security vulnerabilities which could exploited in denial of service or privilege elevation attacks on the vulnerable system.
That's the stark warning from security outfit Rapid 7 (via a posting to BugTraq), which advises that a successful denial of service attack could result in corruption of Notes databases. Also, crackers may be able to take over vulnerable servers, Rapid 7 warns.
Rapid 7 is delaying release of details of the vulnerabilities until Wednesday; in the mean time it strongly urges admins to "upgrade immediately to R5.0.12 or R6.0.1 to protect their servers". Lotus R4, unsupported but widely used, is also vulnerable to the undocumented flaws.
But R5.0.12 is still at risk to a separate set of security vulnerabilities, discovered by NGSSoftware last month.
The only safe option seems to be to upgrade to R6.0.1, a major version upgrades for Notes 5 users. Most Lotus Notes users - more than 85 per cent, according to Rapid 7 - are still on version 5.
From Rapid 7's warning we learn only that it has discovered three vulnerabilities in the Lotus Notes and Domino server platforms, two of which also affect the Lotus Notes client. The vulnerability is generic to Notes and not particular to the platform (Linux, window, Unix etc.) a Notes database runs on.
The lack of additional information is unhelpful, because Rapid 7's advice conflicts with earlier advisories from NGSSoftware, warning of potential problems with R5.0.12.
So can we find a way through this mess? Only partially.
Both Chad Loder, of Rapid 7, and Mark Litchfield, of NGSSoftware agree that "their" vulns are different. Litchfield told us that Lotus is yet to issue a fix for all the R5.0.12 problems discovered by him. R5.0.12 isn't mentioned by name in Litchfield's advisories but it is vulnerable, he tells us.
According to Litchfield, the only available fix for the (separate) problems NGSSoftware documents is to upgrade to R6.0.1. In particular he refers to an incomplete post request DoS vulnerability affecting R5.0.12.
Pending definitive advice from IBM/Lotus itself, the situation is deeply confusing, particularly for R5 users. Lotus Web site states all the NGS vulnerabilities bar an ActiveX issue (which is still under investigation) are fixed in 5.0.12.
Last night we asked Lotus' security manager for clarification on its advice to users. We've yet to receive a response. ®