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iDefense Security Advisory 03.10.08: SAP MaxDB sdbstarter Privilege Escalation Vulnerability
iDefense Security Advisory 03.10.08
Mar 10, 2008
SAP's MaxDB is a database software product. MaxDB was released as open
source from version 7.5 up to version 7.6.00. Later versions are no
longer open source but are available for download from the SAP SDN
website (sdn.sap.com) as a community edition with free community
support for public use beyond the scope of SAP applications. The
"sdbstarter" program is set-uid root and installed by default. For more
information, visit the product's website at the following URL.
Local exploitation of a design error in the "sdbstarter" program, as
distributed with SAP AG's MaxDB, could allow attackers to elevate
privileges to root.
This vulnerability exists due to a design error in the handling of
certain environment variables. These variables are used to specify the
configuration settings to be used by various MaxDB components. Since
the "sdbstarter" program honors these settings, an attacker can execute
arbitrary code with root privileges.
Exploitation allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code with root
privileges. To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker must be able to
execute the "sdbstarter" program. In a default installation, this
requires that the attacker be a member of the "sdba" group.
It is important to note that this vulnerability is not architecture
dependent. This vulnerability is trivially exploitable on any
Unix-based SAP MaxDB installation.
iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in SAP AG's
MaxDB version 188.8.131.52 on both Linux and Solaris. Other versions for
Unix-like systems are suspected to be vulnerable. Windows releases do
not include the "sdbstarter" program.
iDefense is currently unaware of any effective workaround for this
VI. VENDOR RESPONSE
SAP AG has addressed this vulnerability by releasing a new version of
MaxDB. For more information, consult SAP note 1140135.
VII. CVE INFORMATION
The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
name CVE-2008-0306 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in
the CVE list (http://cve.mitre.org/), which standardizes names for
VIII. DISCLOSURE TIMELINE
12/05/2007 Initial vendor notification
12/06/2007 Initial vendor response
03/10/2008 Coordinated public disclosure
This vulnerability was discovered by Joshua J. Drake of VeriSign
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X. LEGAL NOTICES
Copyright © 2008 iDefense, Inc.
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Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate
at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use
of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition.
There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the
author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct,
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