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Cannot retrieve contributors at this time Security Advisory #2019-02 (last updated on 2019-10-16)
Title: Local privilege escalation on Solaris 11.x via xscreensaver
Application: Jamie Zawinski's xscreensaver 5.39 distributed with Solaris 11.4
Jamie Zawinski's xscreensaver 5.15 distributed with Solaris 11.3
Other versions starting from 5.06 are potentially affected
Platforms: Oracle Solaris 11.x (tested on 11.4 and 11.3)
Other platforms are potentially affected (see below)
Description: A local attacker can gain root privileges by exploiting a
design error vulnerability in the xscreensaver distributed with
Author: Marco Ivaldi <>
Vendor Status: <> notified on 2019-07-09
CVE Name: CVE-2019-3010
CVSS Vector: CVSS:3.0/AV:L/AC:L/PR:L/UI:N/S:C/C:H/I:H/A:H (Base Score: 8.8)
1. Abstract.
Exploitation of a design error vulnerability in xscreensaver, as distributed
with Solaris 11.x, allows local attackers to create (or append to) arbitrary
files on the system, by abusing the -log command line switch introduced in
version 5.06. This flaw can be leveraged to cause a denial of service condition
or to escalate privileges to root.
2. Example Attack Session.
raptor@stalker:~$ cat /etc/release
Oracle Solaris 11.4 X86
Copyright (c) 1983, 2018, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Assembled 16 August 2018
raptor@stalker:~$ uname -a
SunOS stalker 5.11 i86pc i386 i86pc
raptor@stalker:~$ id
uid=100(raptor) gid=10(staff)
raptor@stalker:~$ chmod +x raptor_xscreensaver
raptor@stalker:~$ ./raptor_xscreensaver
raptor_xscreensaver - Solaris 11.x LPE via xscreensaver
Copyright (c) 2019 Marco Ivaldi <>
Oracle Corporation SunOS 5.11 11.4 Aug 2018
root@stalker:~# id
uid=0(root) gid=0(root)
3. Affected Platforms.
This vulnerability was confirmed on the following platforms:
* Oracle Solaris 11.x X86 [tested on 11.4 and 11.3, default installation]
* Oracle Solaris 11.x SPARC [untested]
Previous Oracle Solaris 11 versions might also be vulnerable.
Based on our analysis and on feedback kindly provided by Alan Coopersmith of
Oracle, we concluded that this is a Solaris-specific vulnerability, caused by
the fact that Oracle maintains a slightly different codebase from the upstream
one. Alan explained this as follows:
"The problem in question here appears to be inherited from the long-ago fork
[originally based on xscreensaver 4.05] Sun & Ximian did to add a gtk-based
unlock dialog with accessibility support to replace the non-accessible Xlib
unlock dialog that upstream provides, which moves the uid reset to after where
the log file opening was later added."
Specifically, the problem arises because of this bit of Solaris patches:
As an interesting side note, it appears Red Hat dropped this code back in 2002
with version 4.05-5:
4. Fix.
Oracle has assigned the tracking# S1182608 and has released a fix for all
affected and supported versions of Solaris in their Critical Patch Update (CPU)
of October 2019.
As a temporary workaround, it is also possible to remove the setuid bit from
the xscreensaver executable as follows (note that this might prevent it from
working properly):
bash-3.2# chmod -s /usr/bin/xscreensaver
5. Proof of Concept.
An exploit for Oracle Solaris 11.x has been developed as a proof of concept. It
can be downloaded from:
Copyright (c) 2019 Marco Ivaldi and All rights reserved.