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CERT Coordination Center

CVS "history" command may disclose sensitive information

Vulnerability Note VU#579225

Original Release Date: 2004-08-17 | Last Revised: 2004-08-19


A vulnerability exists in the history command of Concurrent Versions System (CVS). If exploited, this vulnerability could disclose sensitive information about files and directories on an affected system to a remote, authenticated CVS user.


Concurrent Versions System (CVS) is a source code maintenance system that is widely used by open-source software development projects. It provides a history command that displays reports on cvs commands that have been executed on files or directories in the source repository. The history command supports a -X command line switch, which is designed to allow a user to specify the name of the history file to be used. This command line switch contains an information disclosure vulnerability. When specifying a directory or filename to the -X command line switch, the error message that is returned could allow an attacker to determine the existence and accessibility of arbitrary files or directories on an affected system.


A remote, authenticated CVS user could determine if arbitrary files or directories exist on an affected system and whether the CVS daemon has privileges to access them.


Apply a patch or upgrade

Apply the appropriate patch or upgrade as specified by your vendor. This issue has been resolved in Stable CVS Version 1.11.17 and CVS Feature Version 1.12.9.

Disable the CVS server

Until patches are available and can be applied, consider disabling the CVS server.

Block or restrict access

Block or restrict access to the CVS server from untrusted hosts and networks. The CVS server typically listens on 2401/tcp, but it may use another port or protocol.

Limit the CVS server privileges

    • Configure CVS server to run in a restricted (chroot) environment.
    • Run CVS servers with the minimum set of privileges required on the host file system.
    • Provide separate systems for development (write) and public/anonymous (read-only) CVS access.
    • Host public/anonymous CVS servers on single-purpose, secured systems.

Note that some of these workarounds will only limit the scope and impact of possible attacks.

Vendor Information


CVS Home Affected

Updated:  August 18, 2004



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.


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.

CVSS Metrics

Group Score Vector



This vulnerability was reported by iDefense.

This document was written by Damon Morda.

Other Information

CVE IDs: CVE-2004-0778
Severity Metric: 12.60
Date Public: 2004-08-16
Date First Published: 2004-08-17
Date Last Updated: 2004-08-19 19:53 UTC
Document Revision: 25

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