Public Vulnerability Reports

Apple Mac OS X AppleTalk Socket IOCTL Kernel Stack Buffer Overflow Vulnerability



AppleTalk, a set of networking protocols developed by Apple, was originally implemented on early Mac operating systems. Although it is a legacy protocol, it is still supported on the latest version of Mac OS X. AppleTalk is compiled into the default kernel, but must be turned on in order to be used. More information can be found at the following URL.


Local exploitation of a stack based buffer overflow in Apple Inc.'s OS X may allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in kernel context.

The vulnerability exists within the function responsible for adding an AppleTalk zone to an interface's routing table. A zone can be thought of as something similar to a Windows Domain.

When copying the user provided zone information into a fixed size stack buffer, the kernel uses a user provided length as the number of bytes to copy into the destination buffer. This results in an exploitable stack buffer overflow in the kernel.


Successful exploitation of this vulnerability will result in the execution of arbitrary code in kernel context. Unsuccessful attempts will likely crash the system.

In order to exploit this vulnerability, the system needs to have AppleTalk configured in routing mode. This is not enabled by default. It would likely be enabled on a Mac system running on a network with legacy Mac hosts.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in Mac OS X 10.4.10, Workstation and Server editions. Previous versions may also be affected.

To determine if AppleTalk is running, the following command can be executed on the command line.

 $ appletalk -s 


Disabling AppleTalk will prevent exploitation of this vulnerability. Executing the following command will disable AppleTalk if it is enabled.

 # appletalk -d 


Apple addressed this vulnerability within their Mac OS X 2007-008 security update. More information is available at the following URL.


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2007-4267 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


08/08/2007 Initial vendor notification
08/09/2007 Initial vendor response
11/14/2007 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.