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CERT Coordination Center

Apple Mac OS X vulnerable to privilege escalation when using Directory Services

Vulnerability Note VU#174790

Original Release Date: 2004-06-21 | Last Revised: 2004-07-21


A vulnerability in Mac OS X may permit a local authenticated user with physical access to the machine to gain elevated privileges.


Mac OS X permits the remote authentication of users via directory sevices lookups. When a user logs in to a machine configured to use the Directory Services to provide authentication, it is possible to disconnect the machine's network connection and potentially be logged in with a Finder running as root. This gives the user full root permissions on the machine. Applications started in the session will also run as root.

This vulnerability affects Mac OS X 10.3 through 10.3.3.


A local authenticated user with physical access to the machine may be able to gain root privileges to the system.


Apple has resolved this issue in Mac OS X 10.3.4. A free upgrade is available at

Vendor Information


Apple Computer Inc. Affected

Updated:  June 21, 2004



Vendor Statement

The issue reported in Vulnerability Note VU#174790 affects Mac OS X versions 10.3 through 10.3.3. The issue has been fixed in Mac OS X 10.3.4 which is available as a free upgrade via

Vendor Information

The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.


The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

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Thanks to Jim Foraker for reporting this vulnerability.

This document was written by Jason A Rafail.

Other Information

CVE IDs: CVE-2004-0514
Severity Metric: 0.24
Date Public: 2004-05-28
Date First Published: 2004-06-21
Date Last Updated: 2004-07-21 17:04 UTC
Document Revision: 8

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