Solaris bug gives hackers free rein

Printer daemon contains glitch that could allow attackers to gain root-level access and execute malicious code

Researchers have discovered a bug that could give hackers unlimited access to any machine running Sun's Unix operating system, Solaris.

The bug, discovered by security consultancy ISS X-Force, affects a utility designed to give remote users access to a local printer. The line printer daemon (in.lpd), as it is called, contains a flaw in the "transfer job" routine that could allow hackers to overflow an unchecked buffer, a common means of gaining unauthorised access to a computer.

Hackers could exploit the flaw to crash the printer daemon or execute malicious code with system administrator privileges, according to X-Force. The printer software is installed by default on all Solaris systems.

Sun says it is working on a fix, which will be available next month, and X-Force recommends the software be turned off until the patch is available.

Solaris runs on Sun Microsystems and Intel hardware, and is the dominant operating system for high-end Internet servers.

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