Sendmail NOCHAR prescan memory corruption

CVSS Meta Temp Score
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CTI Interest Score
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A vulnerability was found in Sendmail (Mail Server Software) (affected version not known). It has been rated as critical. This issue affects the function prescan of the component NOCHAR Handler. The manipulation with an unknown input leads to a memory corruption vulnerability. Using CWE to declare the problem leads to CWE-119. The product performs operations on a memory buffer, but it can read from or write to a memory location that is outside of the intended boundary of the buffer. Impacted is confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

The bug was discovered 03/18/2003. The weakness was presented 03/29/2003 by Michal Zalewski and Michal Zalewski (Website). The advisory is shared at The identification of this vulnerability is CVE-2003-0161. The attack may be initiated remotely. No form of authentication is needed for a successful exploitation. Technical details as well as a public exploit are known.

A public exploit has been developed in ANSI C and been published immediately after the advisory. The exploit is available at It is declared as proof-of-concept. The vulnerability was handled as a non-public zero-day exploit for at least 11 days. During that time the estimated underground price was around $5k-$25k. The vulnerability scanner Nessus provides a plugin with the ID 12385 (RHEL 2.1 : sendmail (RHSA-2003:121)), which helps to determine the existence of the flaw in a target environment. It is assigned to the family Red Hat Local Security Checks.

There is no information about possible countermeasures known. It may be suggested to replace the affected object with an alternative product. Attack attempts may be identified with Snort ID 2183.

The vulnerability is also documented in the databases at X-Force (11653), Tenable (12385) and Exploit-DB (24). See 26 for similar entry.





CPE 2.3info

CPE 2.2info


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VulDB Meta Base Score: 7.3
VulDB Meta Temp Score: 6.9

VulDB Base Score: 7.3
VulDB Temp Score: 6.9
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Class: Memory corruption
CWE: CWE-119
ATT&CK: Unknown

Local: No
Remote: Yes

Availability: 🔍
Access: Public
Status: Proof-of-Concept
Programming Language: 🔍
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Nessus ID: 12385
Nessus Name: RHEL 2.1 : sendmail (RHSA-2003:121)
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OpenVAS ID: 53346
OpenVAS Name: Debian Security Advisory DSA 278-1 (sendmail)
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Threat Intelligenceinfo

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Recommended: no mitigation known
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Snort ID: 2183
Snort Message: SERVER-MAIL Sendmail Content-Transfer-Encoding overflow attempt
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Suricata ID: 2102259
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03/18/2003 🔍
03/24/2003 +5 days 🔍
03/28/2003 +4 days 🔍
03/29/2003 +0 days 🔍
03/29/2003 +0 days 🔍
04/02/2003 +3 days 🔍
04/09/2004 +373 days 🔍
04/12/2016 +4386 days 🔍
07/13/2022 +2283 days 🔍


Researcher: Michal Zalewski, Michal Zalewski
Status: Not defined

CVE: CVE-2003-0161 (🔍)
X-Force: 11653
SecurityFocus: 7230 - Sendmail Address Prescan Memory Corruption Vulnerability
Secunia: 12178
OSVDB: 8294 - Sendmail NOCHAR Control Value prescan Overflow

scip Labs:
See also: 🔍


Created: 04/12/2016 02:11 PM
Updated: 07/13/2022 04:07 PM
Changes: 04/12/2016 02:11 PM (66), 10/04/2018 04:24 PM (11), 07/13/2022 04:01 PM (4), 07/13/2022 04:07 PM (1)
Complete: 🔍


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