Linux Kernel Socket Buffer Memory Exhaustion DoS Vulnerability

Credit: iDEFENSE Labs
Risk: Medium
Local: Yes
Remote: No

CVSS Base Score: 4.9/10
Impact Subscore: 6.9/10
Exploitability Subscore: 3.9/10
Exploit range: Local
Attack complexity: Low
Authentication: No required
Confidentiality impact: None
Integrity impact: None
Availability impact: Complete

Linux Kernel Socket Buffer Memory Exhaustion DoS Vulnerability iDefense Security Advisory 12.22.05 December 22, 2005 I. BACKGROUND Linux is a clone of the operating system Unix, written from scratch by Linus Torvalds with assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers across the Net. It aims towards POSIX and Single UNIX Specification compliance. More information is available from the vendor website: II. DESCRIPTION Local exploitation of a memory exhaustion vulnerability in Linux Kernel versions 2.4 and 2.6 can allow attackers to cause a denial of service condition. The vulnerability specifically exists due to a lack of resource checking during the buffering of data for transfer over a pair of sockets. An attacker can create a situation that, depending on the amount of available system resources, can cause the kernel to panic due to memory resource exhaustion. The attack is conducted by opening up a number of connected file descriptors or socketpairs and creating the largest possible kernel buffer for the data transfer between the two sockets. By causing the process to enter a zombie state or closing the file descriptor while keeping a reference open, the data is kept in the kernel until the transfer can complete. If done repeatedly, system memory resources can be exhausted from the kernel. III. ANALYSIS Successful exploitation requires an attacker to have local access to an affected Linux system and can result in complete system denial of service. The system may not reboot after successful exploitation, requiring human interaction to be restored to a working state. Depending on available resources, systems with large amounts of physical memory may not be affected. IV. DETECTION iDefense has confirmed that Linux 2.4.22 and Linux 2.6.12 are vulnerable. V. WORKAROUND An effective workaround is not available for this vulnerability. VI. VENDOR RESPONSE The maintainer acknowledges that this issue is a design limitation in the Linux kernel. The following advice has been offered for creating a patch. It should be noted that this patch has not been fully tested. The patch requires three steps: 1) Add a "struct user *" reference to the "struct file" file structure. 2) Whenever creating a new "struct file" add the following code: struct user *user = current->user; if (atomic_read(&user->files) > MAX_FILES_FOR_THIS_USER) return -EMFILE; file->user = user; if(user) { atomic_inc(&user->count); atomic_inc(&user->files); } 3) Whenever a "struct file" is released apply the following code: struct user *user = file->user; if (user) { atomic_dec(&user->files); free_uid(user); } VII. CVE INFORMATION The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CAN-2005-3660 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems. VIII. DISCLOSURE TIMELINE 11/17/2005 Initial vendor notification - Linux vendors 11/19/2005 Initial vendor responses 12/22/2005 Public disclosure IX. CREDIT The discoverer of this vulnerability wishes to remain anonymous. Get paid for vulnerability research Free tools, research and upcoming events X. LEGAL NOTICES Copyright © 2005 iDefense, 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 email customerservice (at) idefense (dot) com [email concealed] 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.

Vote for this issue:


Thanks for you vote!


Thanks for you comment!
Your message is in quarantine 48 hours.

Comment it here.

(*) - required fields.  
{{ x.nick }} | Date: {{ x.ux * 1000 | date:'yyyy-MM-dd' }} {{ x.ux * 1000 | date:'HH:mm' }} CET+1
{{ x.comment }}

Copyright 2023,


Back to Top