VDB-67031 · OSVDB 23257

IBM CTSS on 7094 Text Editor Password information disclosure

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3.2$0-$5k0.00

A vulnerability was found in IBM CTSS on 7094 (unknown version). It has been rated as problematic. This issue affects some unknown processing of the component Text Editor. The manipulation with an unknown input leads to a information disclosure vulnerability (Password). Using CWE to declare the problem leads to CWE-200. Impacted is confidentiality.

The weakness was released 01/03/1970 by William D. Mathews with MIT Libraries as confirmed article (Website). It is possible to read the advisory at larch-lcs.mit.edu. The vendor was not involved in the public release. Attacking locally is a requirement. Required for exploitation is a simple authentication. Technical details are unknown but a public exploit is available. The pricing for an exploit might be around USD $0-$5k at the moment (estimation calculated on 04/16/2019). It is expected to see the exploit prices for this product increasing in the near future.Due to its background and reception, this vulnerability has a historic impact. The advisory points out:

What happened was that on one afternoon at Project MAC where CTSS was being used as the main time-sharing workhorse, any user who logged in, found that instead of the usual message-of-the-day typing out on his terminal, he had the entire file of user passwords instead. This went on for fifteen or twenty minutes until one particularly conscientious user called up the system administrator and began the conversation with: "Did you know that...?" Needless to say there was general consternation with this colossal breach of security, the system was hastily shut down and the next twelve hours were spent heroically changing everyone's password.

A public exploit has been developed by William D. Mathews and been published immediately after the advisory. It is declared as proof-of-concept. The exploit is available at larch-lcs.mit.edu. The advisory illustrates:

To simplify the organization of the initial CTSS system, a design decision had been made to have each user at a terminal associated with his own directory of files. Moreover the system itself was organized as a kind of quasi-user with its own directory that included a large number of supporting applications and files including the message-of-the day and the password file. So far, so good. Normally a single system programmer could login to the system directory and make any necessary changes. But the number of system programmers had grown to about a dozen in number, and, further, the system by then was being operated almost continuously so that the need to do live maintenance of the system files became essential. Not surprisingly, the system programmers saw the one-user-to-a-directory restriction as a big bottleneck for themselves. They thereupon proceeded to cajole me into letting the system directory be an exception so that more than one person at a time could be logged into it. They assured me that they would be careful to not make mistakes. But of course a mistake was made. Overlooked was a software design decision in the standard system text editor. It was assumed that the editor would only be used by one user at a time working in one directory so that a temporary file could have the same name for all instantiations of the editor. But with two system programmers editing at the same time in the system directory, the editor temporary files became swapped and the disaster occurred.

The article contains the following remark:

One can draw two lessons from this: First, design bugs are often subtle and occur by evolution with early assumptions being forgotten as new features or uses are added to systems; and second, even skilled programmers make mistakes.

securitywatch.pcmag.com is providing further details.

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VulDB Meta Base Score: 3.3
VulDB Meta Temp Score: 3.2

VulDB Base Score: 3.3
VulDB Temp Score: 3.2
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VectorComplexityAuthenticationConfidentialityIntegrityAvailability
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Exploitinginfoedit

Name: Password
Class: Information disclosure / Password
CWE: CWE-200
ATT&CK: Unknown

Local: Yes
Remote: No

Availability: 🔍
Access: Public
Status: Proof-of-Concept
Author: William D. Mathews
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Recommended: no mitigation known
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Timelineinfoedit

01/03/1970 🔍
01/03/1970 +0 days 🔍
07/11/2014 +16260 days 🔍
04/16/2019 +1740 days 🔍

Sourcesinfoedit

Vendor: https://www.ibm.com/

Advisory: larch-lcs.mit.edu
Researcher: William D. Mathews
Organization: MIT Libraries
Status: Confirmed
OSVDB: 23257 - IBM 7094 CTSS System Text Editor Multiple Instance Password File Disclosure

scip Labs: https://www.scip.ch/en/?labs.20161013
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Created: 07/11/2014 04:10 PM
Updated: 04/16/2019 10:59 AM
Changes: (1) vulnerability_cwe
Complete: 🔍

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