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Category:   Application (Generic)  >   Wireshark Vendors:
Ethereal Buffer Overflow in OSPF Dissector dissect_ospf_v3_address_prefix() Function May Permit Remote Code Execution
SecurityTracker Alert ID:  1015337
SecurityTracker URL:
CVE Reference:   CVE-2005-3651   (Links to External Site)
Date:  Dec 9 2005
Impact:   Denial of service via network, Execution of arbitrary code via network, User access via network
Fix Available:  Yes  Vendor Confirmed:  Yes  
Version(s): Confirmed on 0.10.12; may also affect 0.10.13
Description:   iDEFENSE reported a vulnerability in Ethereal in the OSPF dissector. A remote user may be able to execute arbitrary code on the target system.

A dissect_ospf_v3_address_prefix() function contains a buffer overflow. A remote user can send a specially crafted packet via a network that is monitored by the target system to trigger the overflow and cause Ethereal to crash. It may be possible to execute arbitrary code on some systems.

The vendor was notified on November 14, 2005.

The original advisory is available at:

Impact:   A remote user can cause Ethereral to crash and may be able to execute arbitrary code on the target system.
Solution:   The vendor has issued a source code fix, available via SVN at:

Vendor URL: (Links to External Site)
Cause:   Boundary error
Underlying OS:  Linux (Any), UNIX (Any), Windows (Any)

Message History:   This archive entry has one or more follow-up message(s) listed below.
Jan 11 2006 (Red Hat Issues Fix) Ethereal Buffer Overflow in OSPF Dissector dissect_ospf_v3_address_prefix() Function May Permit Remote Code Execution
Red Hat has released a fix for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

 Source Message Contents

Subject:  iDefense Security Advisory 12.09.05: Ethereal OSPF Protocol Dissector

Ethereal OSPF Protocol Dissector Buffer Overflow Vulnerability

iDefense Security Advisory 12.09.05
December 9, 2005


Ethereal is a full featured open source network protocol analyzer.

For more information, see


Remote exploitation of an input validation vulnerability in the OSPF
protocol dissectors within Ethereal, as included in various vendors
operating system distributions, could allow attackers to crash the
vulnerable process or potentially execute arbitrary code.

The affected Ethereal component is used to analyse Open Shortest Path
First (OSPF) Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP), as specified in RFC-2178.

The vulnerability specifically exists due to no bounds checking being
performed in the dissect_ospf_v3_address_prefix() function. This
function takes user-supplied binary data and attempts to convert it into
a human readable string. This function uses a fixed length buffer on
the stack to store the constructed string but performs no checks on the
length of the input. If the generated output length from the input
exceeds the size of the buffer, a stack-based overflow occurs.


Successful exploitation allows remote attackers to perform a DoS against
a running instance of Ethereal and may, under certain conditions,
potentially allow the execution of arbitrary code. As the overflow
string is generated from a format string converting binary values into
their hexadecimal (base 16) equivalent characters, it can contain only a
limited subset of all possible characters, and the length of an
overflow is only able to be controlled to within the three characters.
This may prevent exploit ability on some platforms; however, it may be
possible that these constraints will not prevent exploitation on


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in the
ethereal-0.10.12 RPM from Red Hat Fedora Core 3. It is suspected that
previous versions containing the OSPF dissector code are also


Disable the OSPF packet dissector in Ethereal by performing the
following actions as the user invoking Ethereal, typically root.

Create the .ethereal directory:

# mkdir ~/.ethereal

You can safely ignore the following error:

mkdir: cannot create directory '/root/.ethereal': File exists

Add the OSPF dissector to the list of protocols to ignore.

# echo ospf >> ~/.ethereal/disabled_protos

This workaround will prevent Ethereal from parsing the contents of OSPF
packets, which prevents exposure to the vulnerability.


A source patch is available from the main ethereal SVN Repository:


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
name CVE-2005-3651 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in
the CVE list (, which standardizes names for
security problems.


11/14/2005 Initial vendor notification
11/14/2005 Initial vendor response
12/09/2005 Public disclosure


The discoverer of this vulnerability wishes to remain anonymous.

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Permission is granted for the redistribution of this alert
electronically. It may not be edited in any way without the express
written consent of iDefense. If you wish to reprint the whole or any
part of this alert in any other medium other than electronically, please
email for permission.

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, indirect,
or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on,
this information.

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