The company's fix comes just days after a hacker known as "Kingcope" went public with details of the vulnerability, which allows a remote attacker to bypass the Sun Solaris telnet daemon's authentication mechanisms. It only affects systems which have the telnet(1) service enabled.
The patches can be downloaded here.
"[This] was an almighty cock up and should not have happened," said Alan Hargreaves, a staff engineer in Sun's systems technical support center.
In a blog entry that provides an excellent snapshot of the security patch-creation process at Sun, Hargreaves explained how the company reacted to the issue, which was publicly released without advance warning to the vendor.
"The upside to the posted exploit was the fact that because the code was available, the poster included an analysis of what was going wrong, pointing at the code that was broken. This almost certainly saved us some time in troubleshooting the issue. For this part of the post, you have my thanks. I would certainly be interested if the person who posted the exploit could tell us how he found the problem; for no other reason, than I'm simply interested."
Although patches have been shipped, security experts have one simple message to Solaris users: Turn off telnet and leave it off.
Telnet can be disabled by issuing the following command: # svcadm disable telnet