[linux-elitists] ftp.gnu.org root compromised

tek tek@pervasivenetwerks.com
Wed Aug 13 15:02:11 PDT 2003

thought this was worthy of a posting in case anyone has grabbed anything from 
ftp.gnu.org. this dates back to sometime in march.


o the Free Software Community:
   * gnuftp, the FTP server for the GNU project was root compromised.
   * After substantial investigation, we don't believe that any GNU
     source has been compromised.
   * To be extra-careful, we are verifying known, trusted secure
     checksums of all files before putting them back on the FTP site.
                 Events Concerning Cracking of Gnuftp
A root compromise and a Trojan horse were discovered on gnuftp.gnu.org,
the FTP server of the GNU project.  The machine appears to have been
cracked in March 2003, but we only very recently discovered the crack.
The modus operandi of the cracker shows that (s)he was interested
primarily in using gnuftp to collect passwords and as a launching point to
attack other machines.  It appears that the machine was cracked using a
ptrace exploit by a local user immediately after the exploit was posted on
(For the ptrace bug, a root-shell exploit was available on 17 March 2003,
 and a working fix was not available on linux-kernel until the following
 week.  Evidence found on the machine indicates that gnuftp was cracked
 during that week.)
Given the nature of the compromise and the length of time the machine was
compromised, we have spent the last few weeks verifying the integrity of
the GNU source code stored on gnuftp.  Most of this work is done, and the
remaining work is primarily for files that were uploaded since early 2003,
as our backups from that period could also theoretically be compromised.
                       Historical Integrity Checks
We have compared the md5sum of each source code file (such as .tar.gz,
.tar.bz2, diff's, etc.) on ftp.gnu.org with a known good data.  The file,
ftp://ftp.gnu.org/before-2003-08-01.md5sums.asc, contains a list of files
in the format:
The REASONs are a list of reasons why we believe that md5sum is good for
that file.  The file as a whole is GPG-signed.
                             Remaining Files
The files that have not been checked are listed in the root directory as
"MISSING-FILES".  We are in the process of asking GNU maintainers for
trusted secure checksums of those files before we put them in place.
We have lots of evidence now to believe that no source has been
compromised -- including the MO of the cracker, the fact that every file
we've checked so far isn't compromised, and that searches for standard
source trojans turned up nothing.
However, we don't want to put files up until we've had a known good source
confirm that the checksums are correct.
                              Alpha FTP Site
The Alpha FTP site at ftp://alpha.gnu.org/ has been a lower priority for
us, but we plan to follow the same procedure there.
                              Moving Forward
All releases after the 2003-08-01 date will have checksums GPG-signed by
the GNU maintainer who prepared the release.  This assures automatic
certification of the integrity of all GNU source from that date onward.
Local shell access to the FTP server for GNU maintainers has been
withdrawn pending competition of our certification activities.  Further
arrangements for GNU maintainer access to the FTP archives will be
announced upon completion of the certification activity.
- -- 
Bradley M. Kuhn, Executive Director
Free Software Foundation     |  Phone: +1-617-542-5942
59 Temple Place, Suite 330   |  Fax:   +1-617-542-2652
Boston, MA 02111-1307  USA   |  Web:   http://www.gnu.org

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