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CRITICAL vulnerability in bash (shellshock)

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September 25, 2014

To: IT Executives and Security Staff

CRITICAL vulnerability in bash (shellshock)

The REN-ISAC [1] wants to raise awareness and stimulate
immediate action concerning a CRITICAL software vulnerability
with HIGH LIKLIHOOD OF IMPACT to your institution, and
make ourselves available for questions and assistance in
understanding the issue. IMMEDIATE ACTION is advised. Active
reconnaissance for vulnerable systems and exploitation have
been observed. The vulnerability is very easy to exploit;
tools and how-to information are easily obtained.

What Are The Vulnerable Services?

GNU Bash through 4.3 bash43-025

The vulnerability may be exposed through:

+ Web services, particularly CGI-based, that invoke bash
underneath. It may be difficult to identify servers that expose
the vulnerability. It's best to assume that you're vulnerable
and exposed. Patch or mitigate accordingly. This path for the
vulnerability allows unauthenticated remote exploitation.

+ Interfaces in network appliances (routers, firewalls, &c)
and embedded control systems. Possibly via unauthenticated
remote exploitation and possibly involving shell invocations
at privileged levels.

+ DHCP, Linux printing (CUPS) and potentially other services
that call system() without sanitizing input.


+ Review the Resources identified below.

+ Identify vulnerable systems, evaluate your risk profile, and
patch systems or otherwise mitigate the risk with due urgency.

+ Communicate regarding this risk to your local IT community
- make sure that servers managed by various departments and
schools are mitigated.


+ The original patch may not mitigate the problem completely,
system maintainers should go ahead and patch anyway and prepare
for a second round of patching as more complete fixes become

+ Monitor for additional information concerning the
vulnerability and patches.

+ Monitor your network for attack traffic and mitigate those
attacks, too

What's At Risk?

It varies upon how specific applications or services invoke bash
underneath, but could range from simple information disclosure
to complete control over the affected system. It's important
to note that risk to your enterprise not only involves internal
services but includes use of services provided by other parties,
e.g. financial, cloud, &c.


Bash (the "Bourne again shell") is a widely distributed and
utilized Unix shell. It's the default shell on Linux and Mac
OS X and has been ported to other operating systems (Windows,
DOS, Netware, Android) and is used in Unix emulators underneath
Windows (e.g. Cygwin). Although many persons associate terminal
sessions with bash it is often employed in the background
by other applications, for example by web applications making
system calls to execute various functions. The name "shellshock"
is widely used to name the vulnerability.

The vulnerability allows arbitrary code to be executed on an
attacked system by setting environment variables and invoking
bash. Systems running web CGI programs that invoke system
calls are at very high risk because of the way CGI requires
the web server to convert HTTP request headers to environment
variables. Other web-based software platforms are also at risk.

Is My Enterprise Affected?

Most likely yes. Either directly (services that you operate
and provide) or indirectly (services provided to you by other

What Systems Are Vulnerable? Patches available?

System vulnerability and patch information is quickly
evolving. Track at the NIST, US-CERT, and SANS web pages:

CVE-2014-6271 (original vulnerability):

CVE-2014-7169 (new vulnerability identified due to an incomplete fix for CVE-2014-6271):

US-CERT - Bourne Again Shell (Bash) Remote Code Execution Vulnerability:

Additional Valuable Resources

SANS - Update on CVE-2014-6271: Vulnerability in bash (shellshock):

ZDnet - Unix/Linux Bash: Critical security hole uncovered

Security Blog - Bash specially-crafted environment variables code injection attack


Thanks to the REN-ISAC Technical Advisory Group [2] for
assistance in assembling this notification, and to REN-ISAC
members for valuable shared information.




We'd appreciate your input on additional means to protect from
the threat and general feedback concerning this Alert. If you
have any questions, please don't hesitate to e-mail us


Your REN-ISAC Team
24x7 Watch Desk +1(317)278-6630