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Category:   Application (Generic)  >   teTeX Vendors:   Esser, Thomas
(Conectiva Issues Fix) teTex 'dvips' DVI-to-PostScript Translator Unsafe System() Call Lets Users Execute Arbitrary Commands
SecurityTracker Alert ID:  1005564
SecurityTracker URL:
CVE Reference:   CVE-2002-0836   (Links to External Site)
Updated:  Dec 15 2003
Original Entry Date:  Nov 7 2002
Impact:   Execution of arbitrary code via local system, Execution of arbitrary code via network, User access via local system, User access via network
Fix Available:  Yes  Vendor Confirmed:  Yes  

Description:   A vulnerability was reported in the dvips utility converts DVI-to-PostScript. A local user or remote user with print privileges can execute arbitrary commands.

It is reported that dvips makes an unsafe system() call when managing fonts. Because dvips is used in a print filter (on Red Hat and possibly other systems), a local or remote user with print access can send a specially crafted print job to cause arbitrary code to be executed. The code will execute with the 'lp' user privileges.

Red Hat credits Olaf Kirch of SuSE with reporting this flaw.

Impact:   A local or remote user with print access can execute arbitrary code on the target system with 'lp' user privileges.
Solution:   Conectiva has released a fix.

Vendor URL: (Links to External Site)
Cause:   Input validation error
Underlying OS:  Linux (Conectiva)
Underlying OS Comments:  6.0, 7.0, 8

Message History:   This archive entry is a follow-up to the message listed below.
Oct 16 2002 teTex 'dvips' DVI-to-PostScript Translator Unsafe System() Call Lets Users Execute Arbitrary Commands

 Source Message Contents

Subject:  [conectiva-updates] [CLA-2002:537] Conectiva Linux Security Announcement - tetex

Hash: SHA1

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PACKAGE   : tetex
SUMMARY   : dvips command execution vulnerability
DATE      : 2002-10-29 19:49:00
ID        : CLA-2002:537
RELEASES  : 6.0, 7.0, 8

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 tetex contains the TeX typesetting system. Among other features, it
 includes support to generate documents using LaTeX, which is widely
 used for the production of technical and scientific documentation. It
 also contains a set of utilities to work with and convert various
 file formats, such as DVI, PDF, PS and others.
 Olaf Kirch from SuSE discovered a vulnerability in the dvips utility,
 which is used to convert .dvi files to PostScript. dvips is calling
 the system() function in an insecure way when handling font names. An
 attacker can exploit this by creating a carefully crafted dvi file
 which, when opened by dvips, will cause the execution of arbitrary
 Since dvips is used as a default filter by the printing system
 (LPRng) of Conectiva Linux 6.0 and 7.0, an attacker with permissions
 to send printer jobs could execute arbitrary commands with the
 privileges of the 'lp' user (which is the system user responsible for
 the printing system) by sending a dvi file to be printed.
 The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project ( has
 assigned the name CAN-2002-0836 to this issue[1].
 Some preventive fixes related to the use of temporary files were
 added to the tetex packages of Conectiva Linux 6.0 and 7.0. The
 packages distributed with Conectiva Linux 8 already have such fixes.

 All tetex users should upgrade. The dvips utility is in the
 "tetex-dvips" package.


 Users of Conectiva Linux version 6.0 or higher may use apt to perform 
 upgrades of RPM packages:
 - add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list if it is not there yet
   (you may also use linuxconf to do this):

 rpm [cncbr] 6.0/conectiva updates

(replace 6.0 with the correct version number if you are not running CL6.0)

 - run:                 apt-get update
 - after that, execute: apt-get upgrade

 Detailed instructions reagarding the use of apt and upgrade examples 
 can be found at

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All packages are signed with Conectiva's GPG key. The key and instructions
on how to import it can be found at
Instructions on how to check the signatures of the RPM packages can be
found at
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All our advisories and generic update instructions can be viewed at

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Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: For info see



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