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Alert (TA07-059A)

Sun Solaris Telnet Worm

Systems Affected

  • Sun Solaris 10 (SunOS 5.10)
  • Sun "Nevada" (SunOS 5.11)

Both SPARC and Intel (x86) architectures are affected.


A worm is exploiting a vulnerability (VU#881872) in the Sun Solaris telnet daemon (in.telnetd).


A worm is exploiting a vulnerability in the telnet daemon (in.telnetd) on unpatched Sun Solaris systems. The vulnerability allows the worm (or any attacker) to log in via telnet (23/tcp) with elevated privileges. Further details about the vulnerability are available in Vulnerability Note VU#881872 (CVE-2007-0882).

Because VU#881872 is trivial to exploit and sufficient technical detail is publicly available, any attacker, not just this worm, could exploit vulnerable systems.

Characteristics of the worm include, but are not limited to:

  • Exploiting VU#881872 to log in via telnet as the users adm or lp
  • Changing permissions on /var/adm/wtmpx to -rw-r--rw-
  • Creating the directory .adm in /var/adm/sa/
  • Adding .profile files to /var/adm/ and /var/spool/lp/
  • Installing an authenticated backdoor shell on port 32982/tcp
  • Modifying crontab entries for the users adm and lp
  • Scanning for other hosts running telnet (23/tcp)

Sun has published information about the worm in the Security Sun Alert Feed including an inoculation script that disables the telnet daemon and reverses known changes made by the worm.


VU#881872 allows remote attacker to log on to a vulnerable system via telnet and gain elevated privileges. The worm exploits this vulnerability to compromise systems as described above. Since the worm installs a backdoor shell, it is possible for an attacker with knowledge of the authentication tokens to access a compromised system and take any action with the privileges of the backdoor shell process, likely adm or lp.


Apply a patch

To address VU#881872, apply the appropriate patches referenced in Sun Alert Notification 102802.

Run inoculation script

To recover compromised systems, Sun has provided an inoculation script that disables the telnet daemon and reverses known changes made by the worm.

Note that the inoculation script only recovers from this particular worm. Running the inoculation script does not guarantee system integrity. A vulnerable system may be compromised in different ways by attackers exploiting VU#881872 or using the backdoor installed by the worm. To fully recover, it may be necessary to rebuild a compromised system using trusted software sources. For more information, see Recovering from an Incident.


Until the appropriate patches can be applied, consider the following workarounds.

Disable telnet

Telnet can be disabled by issuing the following command as root:

# /usr/sbin/svcadm disable telnet

Restrict telnet access

Restrict access to telnet (23/tcp) from untrusted networks such as the Internet.

Use SSH instead of telnet

SSH provides a comparatively more secure method for remotely logging into a system than telnet. As general advice, we recommend using SSH rather than telnet.


Revision History

  • February 28, 2007: Initial release

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

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