SGI IRIX /usr/sbin/fmt VulnerabilityOriginal issue date: August 26, 1991
Last revised: September 18, 1997
Attached copyright statement
A complete revision history is at the end of this file.
The Computer Emergency Response Team/Coordination Center (CERT/CC) has received information concerning a vulnerability of mail messages in Silicon Graphics Computer Systems' IRIX versions prior to 4.0 (this includes all 3.2 and 3.3.* versions). This problem has been fixed in version 4.0.
Information regarding the exploitation of this vulnerability is inherently disclosed by any discussion of the problem (including this Advisory) so we recommend taking immediate action. Until you are able to apply the patch, mail at your site is vulnerable to being read by any ordinary user logged in at that site.
Silicon Graphics has provided the enclosed patch instructions.
I. DescriptionA vulnerability exists such that IRIX pre-4.0 (e.g., 3.3.3) systems with the basic system software ("eoe1.sw.unix") installed can allow unauthorized read access to users' mail messages, by exploiting a configuration error in a standard system utility. Due to the ease of exploiting this vulnerability and the simplicity of the corrective action, the CERT/CC urges all sites to install the patch given below.
II. ImpactAnyone who can log in on a given IRIX pre-4.0 (3.2, 3.3, 3.3.*) system can read mail messages which have been delivered to any other user on that same system.
III. SolutionAs "root", execute the following commands:
chmod 755 /usr/sbin/fmtIf system software should ever be reloaded from a 3.2 or 3.3.* installation tape or from a backup tape created before the patch was applied, repeat the above procedure immediately after the software has been reloaded, before enabling logins by normal users.
chown root.sys /usr/sbin/fmt
[Fixed in IRIX 4.0.]
The CERT/CC would like to thank Silicon Graphics for bringing this vulnerability and solution to our attention.
This document is available from: http://www.preview.cert.org/advisories/CA-1991-14.html
CERT/CC Contact Information
CERT Coordination Center
Software Engineering Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890
Phone: +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
Fax: +1 412-268-6989
CERT/CC personnel answer the hotline 08:00-17:00 EST(GMT-5) / EDT(GMT-4) Monday through Friday; they are on call for emergencies during other hours, on U.S. holidays, and on weekends.
We strongly urge you to encrypt sensitive information sent by email. Our public PGP key is available from
If you prefer to use DES, please call the CERT hotline for more information.
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Copyright 1991 Carnegie Mellon University.
September 18,1997 Attached Copyright Statement