GLSA-200808-12 : Postfix: Local privilege escalation vulnerability

Medium Nessus Plugin ID 33891


The remote Gentoo host is missing one or more security-related patches.


The remote host is affected by the vulnerability described in GLSA-200808-12 (Postfix: Local privilege escalation vulnerability)

Sebastian Krahmer of SuSE has found that Postfix allows to deliver mail to root-owned symlinks in an insecure manner under certain conditions.
Normally, Postfix does not deliver mail to symlinks, except to root-owned symlinks, for compatibility with the systems using symlinks in /dev like Solaris. Furthermore, some systems like Linux allow to hardlink a symlink, while the POSIX.1-2001 standard requires that the symlink is followed. Depending on the write permissions and the delivery agent being used, this can lead to an arbitrary local file overwriting vulnerability (CVE-2008-2936). Furthermore, the Postfix delivery agent does not properly verify the ownership of a mailbox before delivering mail (CVE-2008-2937).
Impact :

The combination of these features allows a local attacker to hardlink a root-owned symlink such that the newly created symlink would be root-owned and would point to a regular file (or another symlink) that would be written by the Postfix built-in local(8) or virtual(8) delivery agents, regardless the ownership of the final destination regular file. Depending on the write permissions of the spool mail directory, the delivery style, and the existence of a root mailbox, this could allow a local attacker to append a mail to an arbitrary file like /etc/passwd in order to gain root privileges.
The default configuration of Gentoo Linux does not permit any kind of user privilege escalation.
The second vulnerability (CVE-2008-2937) allows a local attacker, already having write permissions to the mail spool directory which is not the case on Gentoo by default, to create a previously nonexistent mailbox before Postfix creates it, allowing to read the mail of another user on the system.
Workaround :

The following conditions should be met in order to be vulnerable to local privilege escalation.
The mail delivery style is mailbox, with the Postfix built-in local(8) or virtual(8) delivery agents.
The mail spool directory (/var/spool/mail) is user-writeable.
The user can create hardlinks pointing to root-owned symlinks located in other directories.
Consequently, each one of the following workarounds is efficient.
Verify that your /var/spool/mail directory is not writeable by a user. Normally on Gentoo, only the mail group has write access, and no end-user should be granted the mail group ownership.
Prevent the local users from being able to create hardlinks pointing outside of the /var/spool/mail directory, e.g. with a dedicated partition.
Use a non-builtin Postfix delivery agent, like procmail or maildrop.
Use the maildir delivery style of Postfix ('home_mailbox=Maildir/' for example).
Concerning the second vulnerability, check the write permissions of /var/spool/mail, or check that every Unix account already has a mailbox, by using Wietse Venema's Perl script available in the official advisory.


All Postfix users should upgrade to the latest version:
# emerge --sync # emerge --ask --oneshot --verbose '>=mail-mta/postfix-2.5.3-r1'

See Also

Plugin Details

Severity: Medium

ID: 33891

File Name: gentoo_GLSA-200808-12.nasl

Version: 1.16

Type: local

Published: 2008/08/15

Updated: 2019/03/18

Dependencies: 12634

Risk Information

Risk Factor: Medium

CVSS v2.0

Base Score: 6.2

Temporal Score: 4.9

Vector: CVSS2#AV:L/AC:H/Au:N/C:C/I:C/A:C

Temporal Vector: CVSS2#E:POC/RL:OF/RC:C

Vulnerability Information

CPE: p-cpe:/a:gentoo:linux:postfix, cpe:/o:gentoo:linux

Required KB Items: Host/local_checks_enabled, Host/Gentoo/release, Host/Gentoo/qpkg-list

Exploit Available: true

Exploit Ease: Exploits are available

Patch Publication Date: 2008/08/14

Vulnerability Publication Date: 2008/08/18

Reference Information

CVE: CVE-2008-2936, CVE-2008-2937

GLSA: 200808-12

CWE: 200, 264