Too cool for secure code

Thursday, 27 March 2003, 11:57 AM EST

The last several weeks, as always, have brought a constant flow of security advisories. Perhaps not a torrent, but certainly more than a mere trickle.

Most notable among these is the Linux kernel ptrace vulnerability, which allows local users to acquire root privileges. Next, there is a clever timing attack against OpenSSL that can reveal a site's private key and thus compromise all of its traffic. There is also the mysql configuration file vulnerability, whereby a malicious user can write out a file that will allow him to acquire full privileges; a buffer overflow and local root exploit in the venerable lpr print daemon; a buffer overflow and potential root exploit in the Mutt mail reader's IMAP code; and a glibc integer overflow that allows remote code execution via RPC.

Also reported in the last three weeks are perhaps a dozen more security holes in programs including file, ethereal, ircii, qpopper, Evolution, rxvt, Samba, and others. These are, by and large, holes discovered and reported by the good guys -- there's no telling what black-hat hackers have discovered.

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