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vulnerability CVE-2012-0056

Linux kernel: memory corruption via /proc/pid/mem

Synthesis of the vulnerability

A local attacker can use /proc/$pid/mem, in order to change the memory of a process, and to elevate his privileges.
Impacted products: Fedora, Linux, openSUSE, RHEL.
Severity: 2/4.
Creation date: 18/01/2012.
Revisions dates: 20/01/2012, 23/01/2012.
Identifiers: BID-51625, CERTA-2012-AVI-034, CVE-2012-0056, FEDORA-2012-0861, FEDORA-2012-0876, openSUSE-SU-2013:0927-1, RHSA-2012:0052-01, RHSA-2012:0061-01, VIGILANCE-VUL-11300, VU#470151.

Description of the vulnerability

The /proc/$pid/mem file is used to access to the memory of a process. A user can read /proc/$pid/mem, in order to read the memory of the $pid process, but he should not be allowed to write into the memory.

The mem_write() function of the fs/proc/base.c file was commented, so users were not allowed to alter the memory by writing to /proc/$pid/mem. However, in march 2011 (2.6.39), the mem_write() function was uncommented. Since this change, a user can thus modify the memory of a running process. If the attacker choses a privileged process (suid root), he can thus gain elevated privileges.

A local attacker can therefore use /proc/$pid/mem, in order to change the memory of a process, and to elevate his privileges.
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