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CERT(sm) Advisory CA-96.13
July 4, 1996

Topic: ID4 virus, Alien/OS Vulnerability >

The CERT Coordination Center has received reports of weaknesses in 
Alien/OS that can allow species with primitive information sciences 
technology to initiate denial-of-service attacks against MotherShip(tm) 
hosts.  One report of exploitation of this bug has been received.

When attempting takeover of planets inhabited by such races, a trojan 
horse attack is possible that permits local access to the MotherShip 
host, enabling the implantation of executable code with full root access 
to mission-critical security features of the operating system.

The vulnerability exists in versions of EvilAliens' Alien/OS 34762.12.1 
or later, and all versions of Microsoft's Windows/95.  CERT advises 
against initiating further planet takeover actions until patches
are available from these vendors.  If planet takeover is absolutely 
necessary, CERT advises that affected sites apply the workarounds as 
specified below.

As we receive additional information relating to this advisory, we will 
place it in


We encourage you to check our README files regularly for updates on 
advisories that relate to your site.


I.    Description

      Alien/OS contains a security vulnerability, which strangely enough 
      can be exploited by a primitive race running Windows/95.  Although
      Alien/OS has been extensively field tested over millions of years by 
      EvilAliens, Inc., the bug was only recently discovered during a
      routine invasion of a backwater planet.  EvilAliens notes that
      the operating system had never before been tested against a race 
      with "such a kick-ass president."

      The vulnerability allows the insertion of executable code with
      root access to key security features of the operating system.  In 
      particular, such code can disable the NiftyGreenShield (tm)
      subsystem, allowing child processes to be terminated by unauthorized 

      Additionally, Alien/OS networking protocols can provide a
      low-bandwidth covert timing channel to a determined attacker. 

II.   Impact

      Non-privileged primitive users can cause the total destruction of 
      your entire invasion fleet and gain unauthorized access to

III.  Solution

      EvilAliens has supplied a workaround and a patch, as follows: 

      A. Workaround

         To prevent unauthorized insertion of executables, install a
         firewall to selectively vaporize incoming packets that do not 
         contain valid aliens.  Also, disable the "Java" option in

         To eliminate the covert timing channel, remove untrusted
         hosts from routing tables.  As tempting as it is, do not use 
         target species' own satellites against them.

      B. Patch

         As root, install the "evil" package from the distribution tape. 

         (Optionally) save a copy of the existing /usr/bin/sendmail and 
         modify its permission to prevent misuse.

The CERT Coordination Center thanks Jeff Goldblum and Fjkxdtssss for 
providing information for this advisory. 

If you believe that your system has been compromised, contact the CERT 
Coordination Center or your representative in the Forum of Incident 
Response and Security Teams (FIRST).

We strongly urge you to encrypt any sensitive information you send by 
The CERT Coordination Center can support a shared DES key and PGP. Contact 
the CERT staff for more information.

Location of CERT PGP key

CERT Contact Information
Email    cert@cert.org

Phone    +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
                CERT personnel answer 8:30-5:00 p.m. EST 
                (GMT-5)/EDT(GMT-4), and are on call for 
                emergencies during other hours.

Fax      +1 412-268-6989

Postal address
        CERT Coordination Center
        Software Engineering Institute 
        Carnegie Mellon University
        Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890

CERT publications, information about FIRST representatives, and other 
security-related information are available for anonymous FTP from

CERT advisories and bulletins are also posted on the USENET newsgroup 

To be added to our mailing list for CERT advisories and bulletins, send 
your email address to


Copyright 1996 Carnegie Mellon University
This material may be reproduced and distributed without permission 
provided its used for noncommercial purposes and the copyright statement 
is included.

CERT is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.
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