Does the Ghost Vulnerability require access (as in being a logged in user) to the effected OS in question? Can someone clarify the 'remote attacker that is able to make an application call'? I only seem to find tests to run on the local system directly but not from a remote host.

All the information I have gathered so far about the Ghost Vulnerability from multiple sources (credits to those sources) I have posted below in an answer in case anyone else is curious.

Edit, I found my answer:

During a code audit Qualys researchers discovered a buffer overflow in the __nss_hostname_digits_dots() function of glibc. This bug can be triggered both locally and remotely via all the gethostbyname*() functions. Applications have access to the DNS resolver primarily through the gethostbyname*() set of functions. These functions convert a hostname into an IP address.

  • perhaps add some links to the security SE site, such as security.stackexchange.com/q/80210/1341 and other posts there as well? – MattBianco Jan 28 '15 at 15:28
  • Muru, I moved the content to an answer. Thanks for the suggestion. MattBianco, I also added that link, Thanks. – devnull Jan 28 '15 at 15:39
  • I updated the question to remove any ambiguity. – devnull Jan 28 '15 at 19:34

Answer to my question, from Qualys:

During our testing, we developed a proof-of-concept in which we send a specially created e-mail to a mail server and can get a remote shell to the Linux machine. This bypasses all existing protections (like ASLR, PIE and NX) on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

My compiled research below for anyone else looking:


Despite what a lot of other threads/blogs might tell you, I suggest not to immediately update every single OS you have blindly without thoroughly testing these glibc updates. It has been reported that the glibc updates have caused massive application segfaults forcing people to roll back their glibc updates to their previous version.

One does not simply mass-update a production environment without testing.

Background Information

GHOST is a 'buffer overflow' bug affecting the gethostbyname() and gethostbyname2() function calls in the glibc library. This vulnerability allows a remote attacker that is able to make an application call to either of these functions to execute arbitrary code with the permissions of the user running the application.


The gethostbyname() function calls are used for DNS resolving, which is a very common event. To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker must trigger a buffer overflow by supplying an invalid hostname argument to an application that performs a DNS resolution.

Current list of affected Linux distros

RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) version 5.x, 6.x and 7.x

RHEL 4 ELS              fix available ---> glibc-2.3.4-2.57.el4.2
Desktop (v. 5)          fix available ---> glibc-2.5-123.el5_11.1
Desktop (v. 6)          fix available ---> glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5
Desktop (v. 7)          fix available ---> glibc-2.17-55.el7_0.5
HPC Node (v. 6)         fix available ---> glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5
HPC Node (v. 7)         fix available ---> glibc-2.17-55.el7_0.5
Server (v. 5)           fix available ---> glibc-2.5-123.el5_11.1
Server (v. 6)           fix available ---> glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5
Server (v. 7)           fix available ---> glibc-2.17-55.el7_0.5
Server EUS (v. 6.6.z)   fix available ---> glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5
Workstation (v. 6)      fix available ---> glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5
Workstation (v. 7)      fix available ---> glibc-2.17-55.el7_0.5

CentOS Linux version 5.x, 6.x & 7.x

CentOS-5    fix available ---> glibc-2.5-123.el5_11
CentOS-6    fix available ---> glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5
CentOS-7    fix available ---> glibc-2.17-55.el7_0.5

Ubuntu Linux version 10.04, 12.04 LTS

10.04 LTS   fix available ---> libc6-2.11.1-0ubuntu7.20
12.04 LTS   fix available ---> libc6-2.15-0ubuntu10.10

Debian Linux version 6.x, 7.x

6.x squeeze              vulnerable
6.x squeeze (LTS)        fix available ---> eglibc-2.11.3-4+deb6u4
7.x wheezy               vulnerable
7.x wheezy (security)    fix available ---> glib-2.13-38+deb7u7

Linux Mint version 13.0

Mint 13    fix available ---> libc6-2.15-0ubuntu10.10

Fedora Linux version 19 (or older should upgrade)

Fedora 19 - vulnerable - EOL on Jan 6, 2014 (upgrade to Fedora 20/21 for patch)

SUSE Linux Enterprise

Server 10 SP4 LTSS for x86                    fix available ---> glibc-2.4-31.113.3
Server 10 SP4 LTSS for AMD64 and Intel EM64T  fix available ---> glibc-2.4-31.113.3
Server 10 SP4 LTSS for IBM zSeries 64bit      fix available ---> glibc-2.4-31.113.3
Software Development Kit 11 SP3               fix available ---> glibc-2.11.3-17.74.13
Server 11 SP1 LTSS                            fix available ---> glibc-2.11.1-0.60.1
Server 11 SP2 LTSS                            fix available ---> glibc-2.11.3-
Server 11 SP3 (VMware)                        fix available ---> glibc-2.11.3-17.74.13
Server 11 SP3                                 fix available ---> glibc-2.11.3-17.74.13
Desktop 11 SP3                                fix available ---> glibc-2.11.3-17.74.13

openSUSE (versions older than 11 should upgrade)

11.4 Evergreen     fix available ---> glibc-2.11.3-12.66.1
12.3               fix available ---> glibc-2.17-4.17.1

What packages/applications are still using the deleted glibc?

(credits to Gilles)

For CentOS/RHEL/Fedora/Scientific Linux:

   lsof -o / | awk '
   BEGIN {
       while (("rpm -ql glibc | grep \\\\.so\\$" | getline) > 0)
           libs[$0] = 1
   $4 == "DEL" && $8 in libs {print $1, $2}'

For Ubuntu/Debian Linux:

   lsof -o / | awk '
   BEGIN {
       while (("dpkg -L libc6:amd64 | grep \\\\.so\\$" | getline) > 0)
           libs[$0] = 1
   $4 == "DEL" && $8 in libs {print $1, $2}'

What C library (glibc) version does my Linux system use?

The easiest way to check the version number is to run the following command:

ldd --version

Sample outputs from RHEL/CentOS Linux v6.6:

ldd (GNU libc) 2.12
Copyright (C) 2010 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO
Written by Roland McGrath and Ulrich Drepper.

Sample outputs from Ubuntu Linux 12.04.5 LTS:

ldd (Ubuntu EGLIBC 2.15-0ubuntu10.9) 2.15
Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO
Written by Roland McGrath and Ulrich Drepper.

Sample outputs from Debian Linux v7.8:

ldd (Debian EGLIBC 2.13-38+deb7u6) 2.13
Copyright (C) 2011 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO
Written by Roland McGrath and Ulrich Drepper.

GHOST vulnerability check

The University of Chicago is hosting the below script for easy downloading:

$ wget https://webshare.uchicago.edu/orgs/ITServices/itsec/Downloads/GHOST.c
$ curl -O https://webshare.uchicago.edu/orgs/ITServices/itsec/Downloads/GHOST.c
$ gcc GHOST.c -o GHOST
[responds vulnerable OR not vulnerable ]
/* ghosttest.c:  GHOST vulnerability tester */
/* Credit: http://www.openwall.com/lists/oss-security/2015/01/27/9 */
#include <netdb.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <errno.h>

#define CANARY "in_the_coal_mine"

struct {
  char buffer[1024];
  char canary[sizeof(CANARY)];
} temp = { "buffer", CANARY };

int main(void) {
  struct hostent resbuf;
  struct hostent *result;
  int herrno;
  int retval;

  /*** strlen (name) = size_needed - sizeof (*host_addr) - sizeof (*h_addr_ptrs) - 1; ***/
  size_t len = sizeof(temp.buffer) - 16*sizeof(unsigned char) - 2*sizeof(char *) - 1;
  char name[sizeof(temp.buffer)];
  memset(name, '0', len);
  name[len] = '\0';

  retval = gethostbyname_r(name, &resbuf, temp.buffer, sizeof(temp.buffer), &result, &herrno);

  if (strcmp(temp.canary, CANARY) != 0) {
  if (retval == ERANGE) {
    puts("not vulnerable");
  puts("should not happen");

Compile and run it as follows:

$ gcc ghosttester.c -o ghosttester
$ ./ghosttester
[responds vulnerable OR not vulnerable ]

Red Hat Access Lab: GHOST tool Do not use this tool, its reporting is wrong, the Vulnerability checker from Qualys is accurate.


CentOS/RHEL/Fedora/Scientific Linux

sudo yum clean all
sudo yum update

Now restart to take affect:

sudo reboot

Alternatively, if your mirror don’t contain the newest packages, just download them manually. *note: For more advanced users

CentOS 5


CentOS 6

mkdir ~/ghostupdate
cd ~/ghostupdate

wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-devel-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.x86_64.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-common-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.x86_64.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/nscd-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.x86_64.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-static-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.x86_64.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-headers-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.x86_64.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-utils-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.x86_64.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.x86_64.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-static-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.i686.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-devel-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.i686.rpm
wget http://mirror.centos.org/centos/6.6/updates/x86_64/Packages/glibc-2.12-1.149.el6_6.5.i686.rpm

yum localupdate *.rpm [OR] rpm -Uvh *.rpm

Ubuntu/Debian Linux

sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade


sudo reboot

SUSE Linux Enterprise

To install this SUSE Security Update use YaST online_update. Or use the following commands as per your version:

SUSE Linux Enterprise Software Development Kit 11 SP3

zypper in -t patch sdksp3-glibc-10206

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3 for VMware

zypper in -t patch slessp3-glibc-10206

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3

zypper in -t patch slessp3-glibc-10206

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 LTSS

zypper in -t patch slessp2-glibc-10204

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 LTSS

zypper in -t patch slessp1-glibc-10202

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 SP3

zypper in -t patch sledsp3-glibc-10206

Finally run for all SUSE linux version to bring your system up-to-date:

zypper patch

OpenSUSE Linux

To see a list of available updates including glibc on a OpenSUSE Linux, enter:

zypper lu

To simply update installed glibc packages with their newer available versions, run:

zypper up

Nearly every program running on your machine uses glibc. You need to restart every service or app that uses glibc to ensure the patch takes effect. Therefore, a reboot is recommended.

How to restart init without restarting or affecting the system?

telinit u

' man telinit ' -- U or u to request that the init(8) daemon re-execute itself. This is not recommended since Upstart is currently unable to pre-serve its state, but is necessary when upgrading system libraries.

To immediately mitigate the threat in a limited manner is by disabling reverse DNS checks in all your public facing services. For example, you can disable reverse DNS checks in SSH by setting UseDNS to no in your /etc/ssh/sshd_config.

Sources (and more information):

  1. https://access.redhat.com/articles/1332213
  2. http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/cve-2015-0235-patch-ghost-on-debian-ubuntu-fedora-centos-rhel-linux/
  3. http://www.openwall.com/lists/oss-security/2015/01/27/9
  4. https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/80210/ghost-bug-is-there-a-simple-way-to-test-if-my-system-is-secure
  5. http://bobcares.com/blog/ghost-hunting-resolving-glibc-remote-code-execution-vulnerability-cve-2015-0235-in-centos-red-hat-ubuntu-debian-and-suse-linux-servers
  6. https://community.qualys.com/blogs/laws-of-vulnerabilities/2015/01/27/the-ghost-vulnerability
  7. https://security-tracker.debian.org/tracker/CVE-2015-0235
  • 1
    Nitpick: The vulnerability test code is from Qualys, not from Openwall. The Openwall post linked to is simply the Qualys advisory posted in their mailing list. – muru Jan 29 '15 at 18:46
  • "Due to the large number of applications/system utilities dependent on glibc" -> You might as well take that stuff out, or emphasize the fact that 100% of absolutely everything depends directly on libc except for very odd things that have been compiled as a giant static lump. Thanks this for the BTW! – goldilocks Jan 29 '15 at 19:04
  • @goldilocks, thanks for the suggestion. I edited it along with some other things. Glad it helps! – devnull Jan 30 '15 at 15:55

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