Sudo Flaw Lets Linux Users Run Commands As Root Even When They’re Restricted


linux sudo hacking
Attention Linux Users!

A vulnerability has been discovered in Sudo—one of the most important, powerful, and commonly used utilities that comes as a core command installed on almost every UNIX and Linux-based operating system.

The vulnerability in question is a sudo security policy bypass issue that could allow a malicious user or a program to execute arbitrary commands as root on a targeted Linux system even when the “sudoers configuration” explicitly disallows the root access.

Sudo, stands for “superuser do,” is a system command that allows a user to run applications or commands with the privileges of a different user without switching environments—most often, for running commands as the root user.

By default on most Linux distributions, the ALL keyword in RunAs specification in /etc/sudoers file, as shown in the screenshot, allows all users in the admin or sudo groups to run any command as any valid user on the system.

ubuntu sudoer file

However, since privilege separation is one of the fundamental security paradigms in Linux, administrators can configure a sudoers file to define which users can run what commands as to which users.

So, even if a user has been restricted to run a specific, or any, command as root, the vulnerability could allow the user to bypass this security policy and take complete control over the system.

“This can be used by a user with sufficient sudo privileges to run commands as root even if the Runas specification explicitly disallows root access as long as the ALL keyword is listed first in the Runas specification,” the Sudo developers say.

How to Exploit this Bug? Just Sudo User ID -1 or 4294967295

The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-14287 and discovered by Joe Vennix of Apple Information Security, is more concerning because the sudo utility has been designed to let users use their own login password to execute commands as a different user without requiring their password.

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What’s more interesting is that this flaw can be exploited by an attacker to run commands as root just by specifying the user ID “-1” or “4294967295.”

That’s because the function which converts user id into its username incorrectly treats -1, or its unsigned equivalent 4294967295, as 0, which is always the user ID of root user.

Linux root user hacking

“Additionally, because the user ID specified via the -u option does not exist in the password database, no PAM session modules will be run.”

The vulnerability affects all Sudo versions prior to the latest released version 1.8.28, which has been released today, a few hours ago and would soon be rolled out as an update by various Linux distributions to their users.

So, if you use Linux, you are highly recommended to update sudo package manually to the latest version as soon as it is available.



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