Share Security Advisory #2020-02 (last updated on 2020-01-15)  
Title: Local privilege escalation via CDE dtsession  
Application: Common Desktop Environment 2.3.1 and earlier  
Common Desktop Environment 1.6 and earlier  
Platforms: Oracle Solaris 10 1/13 (Update 11) and earlier  
Other platforms are potentially affected (see below)  
Description: A local attacker can gain root privileges by exploiting a  
buffer overflow in CDE dtsession  
Author: Marco Ivaldi <>  
Vendor Status: Oracle <> notified on 2019-11-13  
CERT/CC notified on 2019-12-09 (tracking VU#308289)  
CVE Name: CVE-2020-2696  
CVSS Vector: CVSS:3.0/AV:L/AC:L/PR:L/UI:N/S:C/C:H/I:H/A:H (Base Score: 8.8)  
1. Abstract  
A buffer overflow in the CheckMonitor() function in the Common Desktop  
Environment 2.3.1 and earlier and 1.6 and earlier, as distributed with Oracle  
Solaris 10 1/13 (Update 11) and earlier, allows local users to gain root  
privileges via a long palette name passed to dtsession in a malicious  
.Xdefaults file.  
Note that Oracle Solaris CDE is based on the original CDE 1.x train, which is  
different from the CDE 2.x codebase that was later open sourced. Most notably,  
the vulnerable buffer in the Oracle Solaris CDE is stack-based, while in the  
open source version it is heap-based.  
2. Example Attack Session.  
bash-3.2$ cat /etc/release  
Oracle Solaris 10 1/13 s10x_u11wos_24a X86  
Copyright (c) 1983, 2013, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.  
Assembled 17 January 2013  
bash-3.2$ uname -a  
SunOS nostalgia 5.10 Generic_147148-26 i86pc i386 i86pc  
bash-3.2$ id  
uid=54322(raptor) gid=1(other)  
bash-3.2$ gcc raptor_dtsession_ipa.c -o raptor_dtsession_ipa -Wall  
bash-3.2$ ./raptor_dtsession_ipa  
raptor_dtsession_ipa.c - CDE dtsession LPE for Solaris/Intel  
Copyright (c) 2019-2020 Marco Ivaldi <>  
Using SI_PLATFORM : i86pc (5.10)  
Using stack base : 0x8047fff  
Using rwx_mem address : 0xfeffa004  
Using payload address : 0x8047dff  
Using strcpy() address : 0xfefe26a0  
# id  
uid=0(root) gid=1(other)  
3. Affected Platforms.  
All platforms shipping the Common Desktop Environment are potentially affected.  
This includes:  
* Oracle Solaris 10 1/13 (Update 11) and earlier [default installation]  
According to the CDE Wiki, the following platforms are officially supported:  
* All Official Ubuntu variants 12.04 - 18.04  
* Debian 6, 7, 8, 9  
* Fedora 17 at least  
* Archlinux  
* Red Hat  
* Slackware 14.0  
* OpenBSD  
* NetBSD  
* FreeBSD 9.2, 10.x, 11.x  
* openSUSE Tumbleweed (gcc7)  
* openSUSE Leap 4.2 (gcc4)  
* SUSE 12 SP3 (gcc4)  
* Solaris, OpenIndiana  
4. Fix.  
The maintainers of the open source CDE 2.x version have issued the following  
patches for this vulnerability:  
Oracle, which maintains a different CDE codebase based on the 1.x train, has  
assigned the tracking# S1231688 and has released a fix for all affected and  
supported versions of Solaris in their Critical Patch Update (CPU) of January  
As a workaround, it is also possible to remove the setuid bit from the  
vulnerable executable as follows (note that this might prevent it from working  
bash-3.2# chmod -s /usr/dt/bin/dtsession  
Please note that during the audit many other potentially exploitable bugs have  
surfaced in dtsession and in the Common Desktop Environment in general.  
Therefore, removing the setuid bit from all CDE binaries is recommended,  
regardless of patches released by vendors.  
5. Proof of Concept.  
An exploit for Oracle Solaris 10 1/13 (Update 11) Intel has been developed as a  
proof of concept. It can be downloaded from:  
Copyright (c) 2020 Marco Ivaldi and All rights reserved.