The problem reported for Mathematica is present still at version 10.0.0
for the GUI interface (the command-line interface may be "safe").

Cheers,

Paul Szabo psz (at) maths.usyd.edu (dot) au [email concealed] http://www.maths.usyd.edu.au/u/psz/
School of Mathematics and Statistics University of Sydney Australia

"The world's definitive system for modern technical computing"
http://www.wolfram.com/mathematica/

Mathematica on Linux uses the /tmp/MathLink directory in insecure ways.
Mathematica creates or re-uses an existing /tmp/MathLink directory, and
overwrites files within and follows symlinks. This type of behaviour is
"known unsafe" on multi-user machines e.g. University login servers.
As a classic example of a symlink attack, while a "victim" is running
Mathematica, if an "attacker" uses:

cd /tmp/MathLink; for x in *; do rm $x; ln -s /home/victim/.bashrc $x; done

then the victim's ~/.bashrc will be clobbered and permissions changed
to wide-open, allowing a complete compromise of the account. (If root
ever uses Mathematica then the damage is greater.)

There is no workaround. - The command-line math interface may be safe.

Notified support (at) wolfram (dot) com [email concealed] on 7 May 2010, was assigned [TS 16194].

for the GUI interface (the command-line interface may be "safe").

Cheers,

Paul Szabo psz (at) maths.usyd.edu (dot) au [email concealed] http://www.maths.usyd.edu.au/u/psz/

School of Mathematics and Statistics University of Sydney Australia

---

http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2010/May/176

http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2012/Apr/157

http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2013/Feb/31

http://www.securityfocus.com/archive/1/511298

http://www.securityfocus.com/archive/1/522354

http://www.securityfocus.com/archive/1/525613

http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/40169

Paraphrasing what I wrote on 14 May 2010:

"The world's definitive system for modern technical computing"

http://www.wolfram.com/mathematica/

Mathematica on Linux uses the /tmp/MathLink directory in insecure ways.

Mathematica creates or re-uses an existing /tmp/MathLink directory, and

overwrites files within and follows symlinks. This type of behaviour is

"known unsafe" on multi-user machines e.g. University login servers.

As a classic example of a symlink attack, while a "victim" is running

Mathematica, if an "attacker" uses:

cd /tmp/MathLink; for x in *; do rm $x; ln -s /home/victim/.bashrc $x; done

then the victim's ~/.bashrc will be clobbered and permissions changed

to wide-open, allowing a complete compromise of the account. (If root

ever uses Mathematica then the damage is greater.)

There is no workaround. - The command-line math interface may be safe.

Notified support (at) wolfram (dot) com [email concealed] on 7 May 2010, was assigned [TS 16194].

[ reply ]