Linux Kernel ALSA snd_mem_proc_read Information Disclosure Vulnerability
iDefense Security Advisory 09.25.07
Sep 25, 2007
Linux is a clone of the UNIX operating system, written from scratch by
Linus Torvalds with assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers
across the Internet. The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA)
project provides audio device support for Linux systems. More
information can be found at the URLs shown below.
Local exploitation of an information disclosure vulnerability within the
ALSA driver included in the Linux Kernel allows attackers to obtain
sensitive information from kernel memory.
The problem lies within the handling of multiple reads from the
"/proc/driver/snd-page-alloc" file. The kernel side function that
handles the read system call, "snd_mem_proc_read", is defined in
sound/core/memalloc.c as shown below.
484 static int snd_mem_proc_read(char *page, char **start, off_t off,
485 int count, int *eof, void *data)
487 int len = 0;
494 len += snprintf(page + len, count - len,
495 "pages : %li bytes (%li pages per %likB)\n",
496 pages * PAGE_SIZE, pages, PAGE_SIZE / 1024);
508 return len;
On line 494, snprintf is called to generate the output for the proc file
system entry. By supplying a count value of 1, snprintf will only write
a single byte to the destination buffer. However, the function will
return the number of bytes that would have been written if enough space
were available. The "*eof" value is never set, and the "*ppos" value is
This function is called from "proc_file_read" function, which is defined
51 static ssize_t
52 proc_file_read(struct file *file, char __user *buf, size_t nbytes,
53 loff_t *ppos)
136 n = dp->read_proc(page, &start, *ppos,
137 count, &eof, dp->data);
155 n -= *ppos;
156 if (n <= 0)
158 if (n > count)
159 n = count;
160 start = page + *ppos;
186 n -= copy_to_user(buf, start < page ? page :
193 *ppos += start < page ? (unsigned long)start : n;
The value "n" is returned from the call to the snd_proc_mem_read
function on line 136. Since the value returned, approximately 41 in
single device scenarios, is greater than the requested read size (1),
the value "n" is set to "count" on line 158. Later, "*ppos" is
incremented and "n" bytes are copied to user-land from "start" (which
is calculated as "page" + *ppos).
In subsequent user-land read operations, when "*ppos" is greater than
zero, the proc_file_read function will copy from beyond the part of the
page that snd_mem_proc_read wrote. This results in the disclosure of
Exploitation of this vulnerability allows attackers to obtain sensitive
information from kernel memory.
In order to exploit this vulnerability, an attacker would need access to
open the /proc/driver/snd-page-alloc file. It is important to note that
this file does not exist unless an audio device is present.
Additionally, the Linux kernel must be built with ALSA support as well
as support for the proc file system. The kernels for the majority of
common Linux distributions are built with these options.
Since memory is only disclosed from the beginning of an uninitialized
page, it may not be possible to obtain certain types of information.
However, the ability to obtain the password hash for the root account
was confirmed during iDefense Labs testing.
iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in version
188.8.131.52 of the Linux Kernel as installed with Fedora CORE 7. It is
suspected that other versions are also vulnerable.
The following workarounds will prevent exploitation of this
* If the ALSA drivers have been built as modules, unload the
* Restrict access to the /proc file system by modifying the mount
parameters within /etc/fstab
VI. VENDOR RESPONSE
The Linux Kernel maintainers have addressed this vulnerability within
version 184.108.40.206. More information can be found from the URLs shown
VII. CVE INFORMATION
The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
name CVE-2007-4571 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in
the CVE list (http://cve.mitre.org/), which standardizes names for
VIII. DISCLOSURE TIMELINE
09/12/2007 Initial vendor notification
09/12/2007 Initial vendor response
09/25/2007 Coordinated public disclosure
This vulnerability was reported to iDefense by Neil Kettle (mu-b) of
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