[UNIX] Cray UNICOS NQSD Format String Security Vulnerability

From: support@securiteam.com
Date: 12/03/01

From: support@securiteam.com
To: list@securiteam.com
Date: Mon,  3 Dec 2001 22:22:43 +0100 (CET)

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  Cray UNICOS NQSD Format String Security Vulnerability


A security vulnerability in Cray's UNICOS allows local root compromise of
any computer running the NQS (Network Queuing System) daemon.


Vulnerable systems:
All versions of Cray's UNIX Cray Operating System running NQSD Possibly
NQSD running in IBM and Solaris environments as well. Confirmed on Cray
T3E running UNICOS/mk revision

The NQS, or Network Queuing System, is a popular batch software processor
that is used to perform job control and leveraging in supercomputing
environments that require heavy symmetric multi processing. The
controlling daemon, which looks like it appears below

   37152 ? 0:00 nqsdaemon
   57415 ? 0:00 nqsdaemon

That runs as root in order to properly schedule and timeslice batched
process. The Mickey Mouse Hacking Squadron has discovered a format bug
vulnerability by which any unprivileged user on a system running NQS can
gain root access. This involves creating a batch with a name that contains
special formatting characters, which is processed by an unsafe function
taking a variable argument list. In order to exploit this vulnerability,
the user must be able to submit the job with qsub in such a way that it
triggers this vulnerability.

The qsub command submits a file that contains a shell script as a batch
request to the Network Queuing System (NQS). For an introduction to the
use of NQS, see the Network Queuing System (NQS)User's Guide, publication

This vulnerability has been exploited successfully by the MMHS in a RISC
environment, using ALPHA processors, in a way similar to bugs exploited
successfully on Digital UNIX by "SeungHyun Seo", also posted to the
Bugtraq mailing list. The exploitation on vectorized processors, such as
the Y-MP series, has proved to be much more difficult, especially due to
large 64 bit addressing and a large number of NULL bytes in the process
address space. This should also prove easy to exploit on PowerPC and SPARC


"Format String Attack on alpha system" Seunghyun Seo (truefinder),
http://www.securiteam.com/unixfocus/6V0070K2UW.html or

The information has been provided by <mailto:mmsquadron@hotmail.com>
Mickey Mouse.


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