Linux Security Flaw Detailed
Internet Security Systems Inc. is warning Linux users of a back-door security flaw that carries ISS's highest danger rating. The
company's vulnerability-assessment team, or "X-Force," as it is
known, says a back-door vulnerability exists for any user running
a full version of Red Hat Linux Piranha, which contains Linux
Virtual Server software, a Web-based graphical user interface, as
well as monitoring and failover applications. ISS and Red Hat Inc.
are providing on a fix for the problem.
According to ISS, an undocumented back-door password exists in the
GUI portion of Piranha that may allow remote users to execute
commands on the server from a remote location and may provide
access to other systems. This security flaw has been given a "5"
rating, on a scale from 1 to 5, because of the flaw's inherent
ability to provide damaging access to attackers. The flaw is
present in version 0.4.12 of the Piranha GUI, which is part of the
latest Red Hat Linux 6.2 distribution. Early versions of Red Hat
are not vulnerable.
A security breach is possible even if Linux Virtual Server is not
used on the system. The system is vulnerable if the affected
Piranha-GUI package is installed and the administrator has not
changed the password. Chris Rouland, director of X-Force for ISS
in Atlanta, does not believe that the back door was installed with
malicious intent, but the vulnerability does reinvigorate the
debate between open-source and closed-source software.
"I think it was just an engineering mistake," says Rouland. Open-
source software doesn't have "an engineering organization whose
role or job it is to provide quality assurance to commercial
software. The upside of open source is that everyone can see it,
so if there are glaring holes, you have peer revue." Red Hat has
provided updated Piranha, Piranha-doc, and Piranha-GUI packages
0.4.13-1, and recommends that administrators be sure that a new
password is installed following the installation.
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