Thwarted Linux backdoor hints at smarter hacks

    Date07 Nov 2003
    3310
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Software developers on Wednesday detected and thwarted a hacker's scheme to submerge a slick backdoor in the next version of the Linux kernel, but security experts say the abortive caper proves that extremely subtle source code tampering is more than just the stuff of paranoid speculation. . . . Software developers on Wednesday detected and thwarted a hacker's scheme to submerge a slick backdoor in the next version of the Linux kernel, but security experts say the abortive caper proves that extremely subtle source code tampering is more than just the stuff of paranoid speculation.

    The backdoor was a two-line addition to a development copy of the Linux kernel's source code, carefully crafted to look like a harmless error-checking feature added to the wait4() system call -- a function that's available to any program running on the computer, and which, roughly, tells the operating system to pause execution of that program until another program has finished its work.

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