Security hole found in FTP servers

The security holes could allow a hacker to break into the servers, steal data, deface Web sites or substitute false data for information a company provides to its customers, according to PGP Security, a Network Associates business unit.

FTP servers are used by more than 90 per cent of all enterprise networks to share data with employees, partners and customers, and the vulnerability could affect a significant portion of those networks, PGP Security said.

The COVERT lab isn't aware of any serious failures attributed to the vulnerability, but as news of the security hole spreads, "it's kind of a race to see if vendors can patch their systems before they are exploited by the bad guys," said Jim Magdych, manager of COVERT Lab.

The problem was discovered in Unix systems from Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics and Hewlett-Packard, Magdych said. PGP Security is working with these vendors so they can provide patches, he said. In addition, COVERT is working with other vendors to help them confirm whether their servers are vulnerable and to get patches out to their end users.

Sun, HP and SGI didn't immediately return calls seeking comment for this story.

The vulnerability is linked to the "glob" function, which is programming shorthand for a function that allows users to conduct a search using a truncated version of a name or a word. When the glob function is used it often returns more data than expected to the FTP server, causing it to overflow the buffer. This is a common type of vulnerability which leaves that data open to exploitation by software that can be written to alter it, Magdych said.

"If someone could compromise the FTP server, they could potentially replace Web sites, deface them or replace files with Trojan (virus) programs," Magdych said. Trojan programs would be especially insidious because they can be set up to run when unsuspecting users try to download a patch.

The notification about the FTP vulnerability follows the lab's warning in January of a possible vulnerability in the software used in most DNS (Domain Name System) servers. Magdych said the efforts were a continuation of COVERT lab's efforts to identify vulnerabilities in systems that are used broadly by the Intenet community and help close those gaps before they can be exploited. PGP Security does not provide the patches, but it sells a risk assessment product called CyberCop Scanner, which has been updated to detect the latest vulnerability.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Margret Johnston

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?