Public Vulnerability Reports

IBM AIX lspath Local File Access Vulnerability



The lspath program is a setuid root application, installed by default
under newer versions of IBM AIX. It is used to display information about
MultiPath I/O devices.


Local exploitation of a file access vulnerability in the lspath command
included by default in multiple versions of IBM Corp.'s AIX operating
system could allow for the reading of one line of any file on the
system, regardless of permissions.

The problem specifically exists in the -f option. If a user specifies a
file with the –f option, the first line (up to the first space) in that
file will be displayed on the screen along with an error message.


The format of sensitive AIX authentication files (namely
/etc/security/passwd) limit the impact of this vulnerability due to the
fact that there is no protected data on the first line of the file.
However, exploitation does not require any knowledge of application
internals, making exploitation of this vulnerability trivial, even for
unskilled attackers.


iDEFENSE has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in lower
patch levels of IBM AIX version 5.2. It is suspected that previous
versions are also vulnerable.


Only allow trusted users local access to security critical systems.
Alternately, remove the setuid bit from lspath using chmod u-s


Vendor advisories for this issue are available at:

For AIX 5.2:

For AIX 5.3:


 The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
names CAN-2005-0262 to these issues. This is a candidate for inclusion
in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for
security problems.


12/21/2004   Initial vendor notification
01/07/2004   Initial vendor response
02/10/2004   Coordinated public disclosure


iDEFENSE Labs is credited with this discovery.

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Copyright © 2005 Verisign, Inc.

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