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Red Hat Patches Linux Apps

Red Hat today issued four patches to close security holes in its version of Linux

Apparently, Microsoft isn't the only vendor who can call a Patch Tuesday.

In a series of announcements that might have made Microsoft envious, Linux vendor Red Hat today issued four patches designed to close security holes in its popular version of the operating system.

Red Hat said the new threats are "moderate" risks and should be eliminated with the installation of the new patches.

For security managers, the most serious discovery was a flaw in GnuPG, a popular utility for encrypting data and creating digital signatures under Linux. By exploiting the vulnerability, "an attacker could create a carefully-crafted message packet with a large length that could cause GnuPG to crash or possibly overwrite memory when opened," Red Hat said. An updated version of the application closes the hole and the encrypted data should be safe, Red Hat affirmed.

The other three vulnerabilities were found in Linux's graphics applications. Red Hat's GNU Image Manipulation Program, for example, contains a buffer overlow bug in its file loader that could allow an attacker to create an image that can execute arbitrary code if opened by a victim, according to researcher Henning Makholm.

Similarly, a flaw in Libwmf -- Red Hat's library for reading and converting Windows MetaFile (WMF) graphics -- could let an attacker write a bug that would execute arbitrary code upon opening, Red Hat said.

In a fourth vulnerability, researcher Chris Evans reported flaws in the FreeType font engine. If a user loads a carefully crafted font file with a program linked to FreeType, it could cause the application to crash or execute arbitrary code as the user, Evans said.

"While it is uncommon for a user to explicitly load a font file, there are several application file formats which contain embedded fonts that are parsed by FreeType," Evans reported.

The new round of patches demonstrates that Linux systems are not necessarily more secure than Windows, observers said. "How much time are you really spending staying on top of your Linux boxes?" asked Joe Hernick, director of IT at the Loomis Chaffee School and a former Fortune 100 IT executive. Vulnerabilities in Linux systems often take longer to discover than those in Windows, he observed, and patches are sometimes slower to be issued.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

  • Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT)
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