FreeBSD Local Root Escalation Vulnerability

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


It’s been a long time since we’ve heard about a problem with FreeBSD, partially because the mass of people using it isn’t that large and secondly because BSD tends to be pretty secure as operating systems go.

It’s a pretty serious flaw this time with root escalation, thankfully it’s only a local exploit though and not remotely exploitable.

Although a user could get user access on the system through an exploit in a web facing application, and use some kind of PHP/Python web shell to exploit and get root.

A security researcher has uncovered a security bug in the FreeBSD operating system that allows users with limited privileges to take full control of underlying systems.

The bug in FreeBSD’s kqueue notification interface makes it trivial for those with local access to a vulnerable system to gain full root privileges, Przemyslaw Frasunek, an independent security consultant in Poland, told The Register. It affects versions 6.0 through 6.4 of the operating system, the last two versions of which enjoy wide use and continue to be supported by the FreeBSD Foundation.

Versions 7.1 and and beyond are not vulnerable.

With a lot of people still using FreeBSD 6.3 and 6.4, amongst the FreeBSD community I’d say this could be quite a widespread problem.

A lot of BSD boxes are used for web hosting too, so I’d imagine a lot have SSH access enabled giving people local access and the capability of executing this exploit.

Those exploiting the bug must first have local access to a vulnerable system, either as a legitimate user or by exploiting some other flaw (say, a vulnerable PHP script) that gives an attacker a toe-hold in to the targeted system. Frasunek said the vulnerability is trivial to exploit, as a video he posted here suggests.

The bug is the result of a race condition in the FreeBSD kqueue that leads to a NULL pointer dereference in kernel mode. Attackers can cause vulnerable systems to run malware by putting the code in a memory page mapped to address 0x0.

Frasunek said he notified FreeBSD officials on August 29 and has yet to get a response. Robert Watson, a FreeBSD Core Team member, told El Reg that it appeared the email had gotten “lost in the slew” and he expected an advisory to be issued soon.

If you’re using the latest production release (at this time 7.2) you aren’t vulnerable to this problem, I hope to see them backport the patch to the previous versions as they still have a sizable following.

You should see an advisory hitting the mailing lists soon, and I’d expect it to be fixed pretty quickly too.

Beware if you are using FreeBSD and have users with local access you don’t trust.

Source: The Register

Posted in: Exploits/Vulnerabilities, Linux Hacking

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3 Responses to FreeBSD Local Root Escalation Vulnerability

  1. twega September 16, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    It shows that 7.2 is vulnerable too, are we to believe the other video?
    Video: http://www.vimeo.com/6580991

  2. Marcin Gryszkalis September 16, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    As author explained in polish usenet group – there are 2 vulnerabilities, one for 6.4 and other for 6.4, 7.2 (and 8-current probably).

    Exploit’s author (check for explanation): http://www.frasunek.com/

  3. gunslinger_ September 20, 2009 at 6:57 am #

    7.2 -> 7.x is vulnerable…
    i’ve tried rooted much of it…
    again and root freebsd 7.x again…