Tried, Tested and Proven

Vulnerability title: Libodm Allows Privilege Escalation Via Arbitrary File Writes In IBM AIX

CVE: CVE-2014-3977
Vendor: IBM
Product: AIX
Affected version: 6.1.8 and later
Fixed version: N/A
Reported by: Tim Brown


It has been identified that libodm allows privilege escalation via arbitrary file writes with elevated privileges (utilising SetGID and SetUID programs).

It is believed this is a side affect of CVE-2012-2179 being incorrectly resolved. As understood, prior to CVE-2012-2179 being fixed, libodm would simply open ODMTRACE0 and write to it assuming ODMERR=1. It is believed that the fix that was applied was to check for the presence of ODMTRACE0 and increment until no file was found. It is necessary to win a time of check, time of use race condition by creating a symlink from the ODMTRACE0 in the current working directory to the target file under hoping that the link will be added after the check has been made that ODMTRACE0 does not exist.


An attacker could create security sensitive files (such as libraries or configuration files), which when processed by a privileged program will lead to privilege escalation in instances where the program runs with privileges that the attacker does not have. For example, if the program is SetUID root, by creating a malicious library within a trusted location, an attacker would obtain root privileges upon exploiting this vulnerability.


The proof of concept exploit is available.

Vendor status:

14/04/2014 Advisory created
16/04/2014 Vendor contacted
22/05/2014 Contact reattempted
29/05/2014 Vendor responded and informed us they have released a bulletin under CVE-2012-2179
30/05/2014 MITRE contacted regarding re-use of old CVE ID assignment
06/06/2014 New CVE ID obtained
10/06/2014 Published

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