+++ This bug was initially created as a clone of Bug #159297 +++
iDEFENSE Security Advisory XX.XX.05
MMM DD, 2005
The TELNET protocol allows virtual network terminals to be connected to
over the internet. The initial description of the telnet protocol was
given in RFC854 in May 1983. Since then there have been many extra
features added including encryption.
Remote exploitation of an input validation error in multiple telnet
clients could allow an attacker to gain sensitive information about the
The vulnerability specifically exists in the handling of the NEW-ENVIRON
In order to exploit this vulnerability, a malicious server can send a
connected client the following telnet command:
SB NEW-ENVIRON SEND ENV_USERVAR <name of environment variable> SE
Vulnerable telnet clients will send the contents of the reference
environment variable, which may contain information useful to an
attacker. The expected behaviour would be only to send environment
variables related directly to the operation of the telnet client (for
example, TERM), or those specifically allowed by the user.
Successful exploitation of the vulnerability would allow an attacker to
read the values of arbitrary environment variables. By itself this
vulnerability is not a large threat, but exploiting this vulnerability
may give an attacker more information about a targetted system, which
could allow more effective attacks.
In order to exploit this vulnerability, an attacker would need to
convince the user to connect to their malicious server. It may be
possible to automatically launch the telnet command from a webpage, for
On opening this page the telnet client may be launched and attempt to
connect to the host 'malicious.server'.
iDEFENSE has confirmed the existance of the vulnerability in version
5.1.2600.2180 of the Microsoft Telnet Client, the telnet client included
in the Kerberos V5 Release 1.3.6 package and the client included in the
SUNWtnetc package of Solaris 5.9. It is suspected that most BSD based
telnet clients are affected by this vulnerability. The telnet client
from the netkit-telnet package distributed with all current versions of
Redhat Linux contains a patch for this vulnerability, introduced in
early 2000. Some other distributions may also contain this patch. There
does not appear to be security advisory released at the time the patch
was added, nor does there appear to be an entry in the Bugzilla database.
This issue appears to have been mentioned in passing in
RHSA-2000-028, in relation to a vulnerability in Netscape.
For Windows based platforms, disabling the Telnet handler or specifying
a different application to handle Telnet URL's can mitigate URL based
attacks. This can be accomplished by removing or modifying the following
This workaround should prevent automatic explotation attempts. It does
not fix the underlying issue.
iDEFENSE is currently unaware of any workarounds for this issue for other
This issue also affects RHEL2.1 and RHEL3
The OWL patch is attachment 115035 [details]
An advisory has been issued which should help the problem
described in this bug report. This report is therefore being
closed with a resolution of ERRATA. For more information
on the solution and/or where to find the updated files,
please follow the link below. You may reopen this bug report
if the solution does not work for you.