Linux kernel attack thwarted

    Date07 Nov 2003
    3411
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    On Wednesday, kernel developers discovered that a server hosting a copy of the Linux source code had been compromised and that a Linux kernel file had been changed to allow the attacker unauthorized access to operating systems built with the affected . . . On Wednesday, kernel developers discovered that a server hosting a copy of the Linux source code had been compromised and that a Linux kernel file had been changed to allow the attacker unauthorized access to operating systems built with the affected source code. The machine in question, Kernel.bkbits.net, hosted a version of the Linux source code that was used by only a handful of Linux developers, according to Larry McVoy, a maintainer of the machine. "It's not a very tightly secured machine. It's more of a kernel developers' playground," he said.

    McVoy did not consider the attack to be significant because the exploit was quickly identified and because the site in question is used by such a small number of developers. The compromise was detected and corrected within 12 hours, and the compromised source downloaded by, at most, a handful of developers, McVoy estimated. The Kernel.org and Linux.bkbits.net sites that are used by the vast majority of Linux developers, including companies like Red Hat Inc. and Suse AG, were not affected by the attack, McVoy said. Had an attacker been able to plant the exploit on those machines, it would have been "a dramatically bad thing," McVoy said.

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