[NEWS] MacOS X Local SecurityServer Daemon DoS

From: SecuriTeam (support_at_securiteam.com)
Date: 01/01/04

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    Date: 1 Jan 2004 18:03:12 +0200

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      MacOS X Local SecurityServer Daemon DoS


    SecurityServer is a daemon used by the effected platforms to provide
    authentication, authorization, password dictionary (Keychain), and other
    services. It is possible for any user to cause the SecurityServer daemon
    to crash. When this happens, it will have a cascading effect crashing
    other processes, and leaving the system in an unusable state.


    Vulnerable Systems:
     * Apple MacOS X, MacOS X Server, and Darwin.

    It is possible to cause the SecurityServer daemon to crash by unlocking a
    locked keychain and specifying a very long password. When the
    SecurityServer daemon crashes, it will have a cascading effect crashing
    other processes that rely on it. Since MacOS X, and many GUI and CLI
    programs rely on the authentication, authorization, and password
    dictionary services provided by SecurityServer, this could cause
    unexpected behavior of those processes.

    Typical behavior for programs such as login, sshd, su, and sudo are to
    prompt the user with 'invalid password' message. Typical behavior for most
    other applications that use the authorization services is that they will
    hang. It is not possible to manually restart the SecurityServer daemon
    unless you already have an existing root shell open before the attack has
    taken place, since SecurityServer must be launched as root and it does no
    have the suid bit enabled. Even when it is re-launched after an attack has
    taken place, it will leave the system in an unusable state. Logins via the
    GUI (login window) will not work and authorization services will not work

    The only realistic way to recover from an attack is to reboot the machine.
    We have not fully investigated the extent that this attack could be
    exploited, or its effect on a system as a whole since so many programs and
    applications rely on the SecurityServer daemon.

    Vendor Status:
    Apple Developer Connection responded that Apple does not give release
    dates for patches.

    ??-??-?? Flaw discovered. Most likely in MacOS X Public Beta or 10.0. Matt
    does not remember the exact date
    11-20-03 Vendor is notified of flaw and is supplied with proof of concept
    12-29-03 Asked vendor for status update. Apple Product Security referred
    me to Apple Developer Connection. Apple Developer Connection informed that
    Apple does not give release dates for patches
    12-30-03 Advisory and proof of concept code released

    As of the release of this advisory Apple has not yet released a patch. We
    are unable to release a patch because Apple only makes portions of the
    code needed to build SecurityServer available to the public. The only
    recommendation is to allow only people your personally trust into effected

    Proof Of Concept:
    To build this code run: gcc <file name> -framework Security ?o

    #include <Security/Security.h>
    int main(int argc, const char *argv[])
        SecKeychainRef defaultKeychain;
        SecKeychainUnlock(defaultKeychain, 0xFFFFFFFF, "password", true);
        return 0;


    The information has been provided by
    <mailto:marukka@consoleconductor.com> Matt Burnett


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