Tag Archives: Ubuntu kernel

Linux TCP SACK Vulnerabilities June 2019

Earlier this week; Netflix’s Cybersecurity team disclosed 3 denial of service vulnerabilities within the Linux kernels (defined) affecting Amazon AWS, Debian, Red Hat, FreeBSD (only 1 vulnerability affects FreeBSD), SUSE and Ubuntu distributions.

If you use Amazon AWS, Debian FreeBSD, Red Hat, SUSE or Ubuntu, please install the relevant vendor updates or implement the workarounds both linked to below.

Why should these vulnerabilities be considered important?
All of these vulnerabilities are remotely exploitable. The most serious of which has been given the name “SACK Panic” (CVE-2019-11477) is most likely to be present/enabled in web servers used to run both large and small business or personal websites. Exploiting this issue will lead to your server crashing/becoming unresponsive. It has a CVSS 3 base score of 7.5 (high severity) and with a low complexity for an attacker to leverage.

The second vulnerability CVE-2019-11478 which can cause “SACK Slowness” is also remotely exploitable but is of moderate severity. If an attacker were to create and send a series of SACK packets it can cause the affected Linux systems to use too much resources (both memory and CPU). FreeBSD is vulnerable to a variation of this CVE-2019-5599.

The third and final vulnerability CVE-2019-11479 is again moderate severity causing high resource usage. In this instance; when an attacker would need to set the maximum segment size (MSS) of a TCP connection to it’s smallest limit of 48 bytes and then send a sequence of specially crafted SACK packets.

The name SACK is derived from TCP Selective Acknowledgement (SACK) packets used to speed up TCP re-transmits by informing a sender (in a two-way data transfer) of which data packets have been already been received successfully.


How can I protect my organisation or myself from these vulnerabilities?
The affected vendors have released updates or workarounds for these vulnerabilities; links to their advisories and recommended actions are provided below.

At this time, it is not known if Apple macOS (which originated from FreeBSD) is affected. It is not mentioned in any of the advisories. Should an advisory be released it will be available from Apple’s dedicated security page.


Amazon AWS:








Updated: 9th July 2019
On the 2nd of July 2019; VMware issued some updates for this set of vulnerabilities that affects it’s products. Further updates are pending. If you use any of the following VMware products, please review this security advisory and apply the updates as they become available:

Container Service Extension
Enterprise PKS
Horizon DaaS
Hybrid Cloud Extension
Identity Manager
Integrated OpenStack
NSX for vSphere
NSX-T Data Center
Pulse Console
SD-WAN Edge by VeloCloud
SD-WAN Gateway by VeloCloud
SD-WAN Orchestrator by VeloCloud
Skyline Collector
Unified Access Gateway
vCenter Server Appliance
vCloud Availability Appliance
vCloud Director For Service Providers
vCloud Usage Meter
vRealize Automation
vRealize Business for Cloud
vRealize Code Stream
vRealize Log Insight
vRealize Network Insight
vRealize Operations Manager
vRealize Orchestrator Appliance
vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager
vSphere Data Protection
vSphere Integrated Containers
vSphere Replication

Thank you.

Pwn2Own 2017 Results

The final day of competition within Pwn2Own 2017 took place on Friday, 17th March. Full details of how the individual teams performed and how many exploits were successful are available here , here and here.

In summary the following products were successfully exploited:

Adobe Flash
Adobe Reader
Apple Safari
Apple macOS (mostly the macOS kernel)(defined)
Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Windows kernel
Mozilla Firefox
Ubuntu Linux
VMware Workstation

The contest saw 51 vulnerabilities used and a total of USD$833,000 awarded to the contestants (a very large increase over last year’s USD$460K). As I noted last year, many vulnerabilities once again were present within the macOS and Windows kernels specifically:

Apple macOS kernel:
race condition (defined)
information disclosures (defined)
out of bounds (OOB) bug (defined)

Microsoft Windows kernel:
integer overflows (defined)
buffer overflows (defined)
uninitialised buffers (discussed here)
use-after-free (defined here and here)
information disclosures
out of bounds (OOB) bug
race condition

As before Microsoft and Apple need to do more thorough static analysis/auditing/fuzzing (defined here and here) of the kernel to find and resolve vulnerabilities before they are exploited. It is a surprise this year again highlights this short coming which secure coding practices e.g. Microsoft’s SDL and Adobe’s SPLC (among others) were intended to reduce.

Of note is; Mozilla Firefox released Firefox 52.0.1 to resolve an integer flow vulnerability in less than 1 day after it’s disclosure during Pwn2Own; a fantastic response time.

Update: 28th March 2017:
On the 28th of March, VMware made available security updates to address the vulnerabilities discovered during Pwn2Own.

Apple have also made available updates (listed in this post) to resolve the vulnerabilities discovered in Pwn2Own 2017. It is unclear if all vulnerabilities are now addressed.

Update: 11th April 2017:
In late March, the Linux kernel vulnerability disclosed during Pwn2Own was resolved very quickly with Ubuntu also releasing their fix for this issue.

Adobe have released updates for Flash and Acrobat/Reader to address what appears to be 5 vulnerabilities in Flash and 6  in Acrobat/Reader (assuming near sequential CVEs and the team names attributed top them) disclosed during Pwn2Own.

We can again look forward to these vulnerabilities being addressed over the coming months; helping to make our products more secure.

Thank you.

Ubuntu Issues Security Updates for April 2016

In the first week of April Ubuntu issued security updates to address vulnerabilities responsibly disclosed (defined) in the Ubuntu kernel (defined). Each vulnerability addressed was assigned a separate CVE identifier (defined).

Why Should These Issues Be Considered Important?
While no severities were assigned by Ubuntu to these issues any issue within the kernel can be consider high to critical severity (if it is remotely exploitable) since if control of the kernel can be obtained an attacker can then use that control to carry out any action of their choice. Ubuntu does however mention that the most severe of these issues can potential lead to remote code execution (the ability for an attacker to remotely carry out any action of their choice on your Ubuntu device) while the remainder can lead to denial of service conditions (defined).

The types of vulnerabilities addressed are varied and range from use-after-free (defined) vulnerabilities to timing side channel attacks (defined, in this case exploiting the timing within the Linux Extended Verification Module (EVM)) to a buffer overflow (defined) and incorrect file descriptor handling (defined).

How Can I Protect Myself From These Issues?
Within Ubuntu’s security advisory they provide the steps to download the appropriate updates for the version of Ubuntu that you are using. In addition, a system reboot is required for these updates to take effect.

In addition, 3 recent security advisories listed below were also made by available by Ubuntu, please ensure that you have followed the steps within each to ensure that you are protected from these vulnerabilities:

USN-2917-3: Firefox regressions: Addresses 34x CVEs
USN-2951-1: OptiPNG vulnerabilities: Addresses 5x CVEs
USN-2950-1: Samba vulnerabilities: Addresses 8 CVEs (among them the Badlock issue)

Thank you.