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Subject: DoS possibility in syslog-ng
From: Balazs Scheidler (bazsiBALABIT.HU)
Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 11:06:29 CST

BalaBit security advisory
Advisory ID: BB-2000/01

Package: syslog-ng
Versions affected: versions prior to and including 1.4.8
Problem type: remote DoS attack
Date: 2000-11-22

1) Background

syslog-ng is a portable syslog implementation. Its highlights include regexp
based log selection, TCP transport and more. For more information:

2) Problem description

When syslog-ng parses log messages a variable named "left" is used to store
the remaining length of the log message. The priority part in the message
should look like this:


When the line ends without the closing '>' this "left" variable becomes -1
due a to a bug.

The remaining part of the message parsing routine checks if there's any
characters left using the condition: left != 0, since -1 is not 0, this
condition evaluates to true.

Syslog-ng versions after 1.4.7 filters out \r and \n characters from log
messages and replaces them with spaces to avoid cluttering logfiles. Due to
a problem in the parsing of log messages, this character change may access
unaccessible memory region. This causes a segmentation fault. So sending a
"<6", terminated with a newline to one of the input channels causes a

Prior to 1.4.7, this character change was not implemented, so mounting a DoS
attack is not so trivial, but is still possible. (it's left to the reader as
an exercise)

It is believed that no other exploitation is possible.

3) Impact

Sending a carefully crafted syslog packet may cause syslog-ng to exit with a
Segmentation Fault.

4) Solution

Upgrade syslog-ng to 1.4.9, which is a security upgrade, and changes nothing
compared to 1.4.8 or apply this patch:

diff -urN syslog-ng-1.4.8/src/log.c syslog-ng-1.4.9/src/log.c
--- syslog-ng-1.4.8/src/log.c Tue Oct 10 15:05:52 2000
+++ syslog-ng-1.4.9/src/log.c Wed Nov 22 16:45:11 2000
-67,8 +67,10
                lm->pri = pri;
- src++;
- left--;
+ if (left) {
+ src++;
+ left--;
+ }
        else {
                lm->pri = LOG_USER | LOG_NOTICE;

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