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HP-UX kernel specifies incorrect arguments for setrlimit()

Vulnerability Note VU#726187

Original Release Date: 2002-03-28 | Last Revised: 2003-12-09


A problem exists in some versions of the HP-UX kernel allowing an intruder to cause kernel panics.


Certain versions of HP-UX setrlimit system call contain a vulnerability that permits an intruder to cause kernel panics or compromise the system. Quoting from HP Security Bulletin #0183:

The HP-UX kernel incorrectly specifies arguements for setrlimit() and can produce unexpected panics.

According to the HP bulletin, this problem affects HP 9000 series servers running HP-UX 11.11. For more information see,

Registration may be required to view this bulletin.


An intruder may be able to cause a denial of service by causing a kernel panic. Additionally, the HP bulletin says "servers could be locally compromised," suggesting the ability to run arbitrary code.


Apply patch PHKL_26233 as specified in the HP bulletin.

Vendor Information


Hewlett-Packard Company Affected

Updated:  March 28, 2002



Vendor Statement

Document ID:  HPSBUX0202-183
Date Loaded:  20020212
      Title:  Sec. Vulnerability with setrlimit()

    Originally issued:  12 February 2002

The information in the following Security Bulletin should be acted
upon as soon as possible.  Hewlett-Packard Company will not be
liable for any consequences to any customer resulting from customer's
failure to fully implement instructions in this Security Bulletin as
soon as possible.

PROBLEM: The HP-UX kernel incorrectly specifies arguements for
         setrlimit() and can produce unexpected panics.

PLATFORM: HP 9000 Series Servers running only HP-UX 11.11.

DAMAGE:   Possible denial of service.

SOLUTION: Install the following patch for HP-UX release 11.11



AVAILABILITY: The patch is available now.

A. Background
   Hewlett-Packard Company has discovered a kernel flaw by which
   servers could be locally compromised.

B. Recommended solution
   Obtain and install the following patch on all servers running
   HP-UX 11.11.

   A reboot is required.

C. To subscribe to automatically receive future NEW HP Security
   Bulletins from the HP IT Resource Center via electronic
   mail, do the following:

   Use your browser to get to the HP IT Resource Center page

   Use the 'Login' tab at the left side of the screen to login
   using your ID and password.  Use your existing login or the
   "Register" button at the left to create a login, in order to
   gain access to many areas of the ITRC.  Remember to save the
   User ID assigned to you, and your password.

   In the left most frame select "Maintenance and Support".

   Under the "Notifications" section (near the bottom of
   the page), select "Support Information Digests".

   To -subscribe- to future HP Security Bulletins or other
   Technical Digests, click the check box (in the left column)
   for the appropriate digest and then click the "Update
   Subscriptions" button at the bottom of the page.


    To -review- bulletins already released, select the link
    (in the middle column) "Search Technical Knowledge

    To -gain access- to the Security Patch Matrix, or the
    "The Security Bulletins Archive" select the link for
    "The Security Bulletins Archive" (near the bottom of
    the page).  Once in the archive the third link is
    to the current Security Patch Matrix. Updated daily, this
    matrix categorizes security patches by platform/OS release,
    and by bulletin topic.  Security Patch Check completely
    automates the process of reviewing the patch matrix for
    11.XX systems.

    For information on the Security Patch Check tool, see:"

    The security patch matrix is also available via anonymous

    On the "Support Information Digest Main" page:
    click on the "HP Security Bulletin Archive".

D. To report new security vulnerabilities, send email to

   Please encrypt any exploit information using the
   security-alert PGP key, available from your local key
   server, or by sending a message with a -subject- (not body)
   of 'get key' (no quotes) to

   Permission is granted for copying and circulating this
   Bulletin to Hewlett-Packard (HP) customers (or the Internet
   community) for the purpose of alerting them to problems,
   if and only if, the Bulletin is not edited or changed in
   any way, is attributed to HP, and provided such reproduction
   and/or distribution is performed for non-commercial purposes.

   Any other use of this information is prohibited. HP is not
   liable for any misuse of this information by any third party.

Vendor Information

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


The latest version of this document may be found at A copy is reproduced above for your convenience.

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

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Our thanks to Hewlett Packard for security bulleting #0183, upon which this document is based.

This document was written by Shawn V. Hernan.

Other Information

CVE IDs: CVE-2002-0279
Severity Metric: 9.11
Date Public: 2002-02-12
Date First Published: 2002-03-28
Date Last Updated: 2003-12-09 14:46 UTC
Document Revision: 5

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