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Category:   OS (Linux)  >   Fileutils (GNU) Vendors:   GNU [multiple authors]
(Conectiva Issues Fix) GNU/Linux '/bin/ls' Memory Allocation May Let Remote Users Deny Service Via Other Applications
SecurityTracker Alert ID:  1007982
SecurityTracker URL:
CVE Reference:   CVE-2003-0853, CVE-2003-0854   (Links to External Site)
Updated:  Dec 1 2003
Original Entry Date:  Oct 22 2003
Impact:   Denial of service via local system, Denial of service via network
Fix Available:  Yes  Vendor Confirmed:  Yes  
Version(s): Conectiva 7.0, 8, 9
Description:   A vulnerability was reported in the GNU/Linux 'ls' utility. A remote user may be able to cause denial of service conditions by exploiting /bin/ls via remote applications, such as wu-ftpd.

Georgi Guninski reported an integer overflow in /bin/ls. Also, applications that invoke /bin/ls may be subject to denial of service attacks, the report said. A remote user may be able to cause an application (such as wu-ftpd) to invoke ls with the '-w' column width option and the '-C' option to consume a large amount of memory for a temporary period of time. The init_column_info() function will potentially allocate much more memory than is needed to display the relevant files. This can reportedly cause temporary denial of service conditions.

As a demonstration exploit of the memory consumption flaw, the following command can be used via wu-ftpd:

ls "-w 1000000 -C"

As a demonstration exploit for the integer overflow flaw, the following local command can be used:

/bin/ls -w 1073741828 -C

The /bin/ls utility is part of the GNU coreutils collection.

The original advisory is available at:

Impact:   A remote user may be able to cause applications using /bin/ls to experience denial of service conditions.
Solution:   Conectiva has released a fix for the fileutils package (which includes ls).

Cause:   State error

Message History:   This archive entry is a follow-up to the message listed below.
Oct 22 2003 GNU/Linux '/bin/ls' Memory Allocation May Let Remote Users Deny Service Via Other Applications

 Source Message Contents

Subject:  [conectiva-updates] [CLA-2003:768] Conectiva Security Announcement - fileutils

Hash: SHA1

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PACKAGE   : fileutils
SUMMARY   : Denial of service vulnerability (exploitable through wu-ftpd)
DATE      : 2003-10-22 16:10:00
ID        : CLA-2003:768
RELEASES  : 7.0, 8, 9

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 The fileutils package contains several basic system utilities. One of
 these utilities is the "ls" program, used to list information about
 files and directories.
 Georgi Guninski discovered[1] a memory starvation denial of service
 vulnerability in the ls program. It is possible to make ls allocate a
 huge amount of memory by calling it with the parameters "-w X -C"
 (where X is an arbitrary large number).
 This vulnerability is remotely exploitable in scenarios where remote
 applications allow an user to call ls without filtering the supplied
 parameters. An example of such scenario is the use of the wu-ftpd FTP
 The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project ( has
 assigned the name CAN-2003-0854[2] to this issue.
 Additionally, this update fixes an integer overflow in ls which seems
 non-exploitable. The overflow occurs in the usage of the "-w"
 parameter under the same circumstances of the aforementioned memory
 starvation vulnerability. The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures
 project ( has assigned the name CAN-2003-0853[3] to
 this issue.

 All users should upgrade.


 The apt tool can be used to perform RPM packages upgrades:

 - 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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Copyright (c) 2003 Conectiva Inc.

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



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