Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-security (228 mails)

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Re: [suse-security] Firefox invocation allows unintended root access
  • From: Phil Betts <phil_betts@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 21:21:47 +0100
  • Message-id: <1112214107.5217.134.camel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Wed, 2005-03-30 at 11:27 +0200, Marcus Meissner wrote:

> Your remote side can do even more things, like snooping or inserting
> keyboard input into the main X session.
> If you are on the same X Server you have basically full user access.
Of course, but that's not what one expects of a browser whose reputation
is built, at least partly, on security. If you invite your trustworthy
neighbour in for a drink, you'd be pretty upset if he took control of
the TV remote, emptied your fridge and rearranged the furniture!

> I do not see this is as a problem, but workin as intended.

Hmm, "as intended" != "correctly" (except perhaps in Redmond).

If by "intended", you mean that there should only ever be one instance
of firefox per X display, then firefox is broken, because two different
users on the _same_ box start independent firefox instances, each with
their own set of bookmarks, cookies, extensions etc. Why should this
policy be different when running a firefox from a session on a second

The fact remains that I clicked on a link in an email message as an
unprivileged user on my web-facing machine, but found that I had
connected to the web as root on a machine that normally only connects to
the web for system updates. I would NEVER have connected to the web for
any other purpose using my root account (on either box) by choice. If
the link I had clicked was actually to a page containing some malicious
exploit, I would have been completely stuffed. I can't believe that
this is "as intended".

Also, regardless of the security implications, if I start a session on a
remote box and start firefox, I do this because I want THAT user's set
of bookmarks etc., not those of some arbitrary user on a different
machine. As it stands, the only way to achieve this is to shut down all
prior instances of firefox first, which is neither intuitive, nor

As I mentioned in my original post, I don't know the details of the
underlying mechanism, as it involves the interaction of X, ssh and
firefox. If you have more knowledge on this, I'll be happy to raise it
with the most appropriate party. My guess would be the firefox
developers, but for all I know, they may just be using some
connect_to_existing_instance() routine in an independently written
shared library, which could mean that many apps may be subject to the
same problem.


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