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IBM AIX auditselect contains format string vulnerability

Vulnerability Note VU#896729

Original Release Date: 2005-02-28 | Last Revised: 2005-02-28


IBM AIX auditselect command contains a format string vulnerability that may allow a local attacker to execute arbitrary code.


According to IBM's Command Reference, the syntax and description of the auditselect command are as follows:

$> auditselect { -e "Expression" | -f File} [ -m ] [ Trail ]

The auditselect command is part of the audit subsystem. The command is called by the auditbin daemon if it is configured in the /etc/security/audit/bincmds file as a backend command for processing bin files.

The auditselect command selects audit records that match identified criteria and writes the records to standard output. With the auditselect command, you can filter the audit trail to obtain specific records for analysis or select specific records for long-term storage. The command takes stream or bin input from the file specified by the Trail parameter or from standard input. If you specify the $bin string as the value of the Trail parameter, the auditbin daemon substitutes the path name of the current bin file when it calls the auditselect command. The selection criteria can be entered as an expression or from the file specified by the -f flag. If the bin files are compressed, the auditselect command unpacks them prior to processing.

There is a format string vulnerability within the auditselect command due to the way it uses formatted output routines, such as printf(). The auditselect command may pass formatted output routines user-supplied data. If a local attacker with audit group membership passes a specially crafted parameter to auditselect, that parameter may be passed to a formatted output routine. Since output routines in auditselect do not adequately filter or restrict input (via a format string specifier), the attacker may be able to exploit this vulnerability.

Please note that the auditselect command executes with root privileges.


By supplying auditselect specially crafted input, a local attacker with membership in the audit group may be able to execute arbitrary code with root privileges.


We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem.


Restrict Access to Audit Group

To successfully exploit this vulnerability an attacker must have access to the audit group. By restricting membership to the audit group to trusted users, the chances of exploitation are reduced.

Vendor Information


IBM Affected

Notified:  February 28, 2005 Updated: February 28, 2005



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.


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This vulnerability was reported by iDEFENSE Security.

This document was written by Jeff Gennari.

Other Information

CVE IDs: CVE-2005-0250
Severity Metric: 1.01
Date Public: 2005-02-08
Date First Published: 2005-02-28
Date Last Updated: 2005-02-28 21:11 UTC
Document Revision: 75

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