Public Vulnerability Reports

IBM AIX ftp gets() Multiple Buffer Overflow Vulnerabilities



The ftp program is a client application for accessing data stored on FTP servers. This client is responsible for interfacing with users and speaking the FTP protocol with remote servers. Under AIX, the ftp program is installed by default and is setuid root. More information can be found at the following URL.


Local exploitation of multiple buffer overflow vulnerabilities in the 'ftp' program, as included with IBM Corp.'s AIX operating system, allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with root privileges.

These vulnerabilities exist due to several calls to the gets() function. The gets() function is a deprecated C library function used to read data from standard input into a buffer. This function provides no way to specify the maximum size of the buffer being read into, and therefore allows the buffer to be overflowed.


Exploitation of any of these vulnerabilities results in the execution of arbitrary code with root privileges.

The ftp program is setuid root, and executable by any user with local access. At least one of these vulnerabilities results in a trivially exploitable stack-based buffer overflow.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in AIX version 5.3 with service pack 6. Previous versions may also be affected.


Removing the setuid bit from the binary will prevent exploitation, but may make the program unusable by non-root users.


IBM Corp. has addressed this vulnerability by releasing interim fixes. More information can be found via the Bulletins tab of IBM's Subscription Service for UNIX and Linux servers. You can reach this service by clicking the URL shown below.


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2007-4004 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


06/05/2007 Initial vendor notification
06/08/2007 Initial vendor response
07/26/2007 Coordinated public disclosure


The discoverer of this vulnerability wishes to remain anonymous.

Get paid for vulnerability research

Free tools, research and upcoming events


Copyright © 2007 Verisign, Inc.

Permission is granted for the redistribution of this alert electronically. It may not be edited in any way without the express written consent of iDefense. If you wish to reprint the whole or any part of this alert in any other medium other than electronically, please e-mail customer service for permission.

Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.