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pgp4pine fails to properly check for expired public keys

Vulnerability Note VU#566640

Original Release Date: 2001-07-12 | Last Revised: 2002-01-15


The program pgp4pine version 1.75.6 fails to properly identify expired keys when working with the Gnu Privacy Guard program (GnuPG). This failure may result in the clear-text transmission of senstive information when used with the PINE mail reading package.


The program pgp4pine provides an interface for various PGP implementations to the PINE mail reading package. Version 1.75.6 of pgp4pine does not check to see if public keys are expired when loading keys from the GnuPG openPGP implementation. When a user specifies an expired public key in their key ring and attempts to encrypt a message with that expired public key, pgp4pine will not check to see if the key is expired. Instead, pgp4pine will issue a command to GnuPG to encrypt the email message with the expired key. The encryption will not be successful and GnuPG will return an error message indicating that the key is invalid. pgp4pine does not detect the error message, and does not notify the user that an error has occurred. The clear text is then returned to the program flow control of PINE. PINE will then transmit the message in clear text.

For more information, see the advisory provided by CryptNET.


Sensitive materials may be transmitted over the network in clear text, without the intention or knowledge of the sender.


No vender patch is known to exist. However, a patch is provided by CryptNET.

Validate all keys on your keyring at regular intervals. Remove expired keys.

Vendor Information


Holger Lamm Affected

Notified:  June 25, 2001 Updated: July 12, 2001



Vendor Statement

We have not received a statement from the vendor.

Vendor Information

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


Although we have not been able to confirm this vulnerability with the author, we believe pgp4pine is indeed vulnerable as described in the CryptNET advsiory.

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

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Our thanks to CryptNET, who published an advisory on this problem, available at

This document was written by Jason Rafail.

Other Information

CVE IDs: CVE-2001-0273
Severity Metric: 0.68
Date Public: 2001-02-20
Date First Published: 2001-07-12
Date Last Updated: 2002-01-15 18:32 UTC
Document Revision: 9

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