Note: This is an archival copy of Security Sun Alert 200145 as previously published on
Latest version of this security advisory is available from as Sun Alert 1000105.1.
Article ID : 1000105.1
Article Type : Sun Alerts (SURE)
Last reviewed : 2010-01-19
Audience : PUBLIC
Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2010, Oracle Corporation and/or its affiliates.

Vulnerability in Solaris "AnswerBook2 Documentation Server" Admin Script


Release Phase

Bug Id

Date of Resolved Release

AnswerBook2 (AB2) administrative commands ...

1. Impact

Unprivileged local or remote users may be able to execute AnswerBook2 (AB2) administrative commands, such as creating new AB2 administrator accounts on systems configured as AnswerBook2 servers.

This issue is one of two vulnerabilities discussed in S21sec advisory s21sec-004 at:

This issue is also described in Sun Security Bulletin #00196 at: (similar to SA 23412).

The other vulnerability discussed in the S21sec advisory is described in Sun Alert 23412.

2. Contributing Factors

This issue can occur in the following releases:

SPARC Platform

  • AnswerBook2 Documentation Server versions 1.4.4 or earlier

x86 Platform

  • AnswerBook2 Documentation Server versions 1.4.4 or earlier

Note: AnswerBook2 is no longer supported as of Solaris 9, and thus Solaris 9 is not affected.

To determine the version of the currently installed AnswerBook2 Server, run the following command:

    $ grep SUNW_PRODVERS /var/sadm/pkg/SUNWab2[rsu]/pkginfo

3. Symptoms

The appearance of suspicious (unknown) AnswerBook2 administrator accounts in the file "/usr/lib/ab2/dweb/data/config/admin_passwd" may indicate that the described issue has been exploited to add additional AB2 administrator accounts. Each line in this file starts with the name of an AnswerBook2 administrator account. For example, the lines:


indicate that there are currently three AnswerBook2 administrator accounts named "ab2admin", "peter" and "mary".

There are no predictable symptoms that would show the described issue has been exploited to execute other AnswerBook2 (AB2) administrative commands on a system.

4. Workaround

To prevent the unauthorized addition of AB2 administrators, change the permissions of the AB2 "password" file as the root user:

    # chmod a-w /usr/lib/ab2/dweb/data/config/admin_passwd

This will prevent additional AB2 administrators from being added.

If additional admins are required, one can add write access to the file temporarily, add the admin, remove write access once again - then check the file to make sure the listed admins are correct.

Sites which have configured AnswerBook2 Documentation Servers may wish to disable AB2 and instead refer to Sun documentation at the Sun Product Documentation web site: or view the documentation on the Solaris Documentation CD.

To disable the AnswerBook2 Documentation Server, the following commands can be run as the root user:

    # /usr/lib/ab2/bin/ab2admin -o stop
# /usr/lib/ab2/bin/ab2admin -o autostart_no

5. Resolution

Please see the "Relief/Workaround" section for the resolution to this issue.

This Sun Alert notification is being provided to you on an "AS IS" basis. This Sun Alert notification may contain information provided by third parties. The issues described in this Sun Alert notification may or may not impact your system(s). Sun makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees as to the information contained herein. ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NON-INFRINGEMENT, ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED. BY ACCESSING THIS DOCUMENT YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SUN SHALL IN NO EVENT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES THAT ARISE OUT OF YOUR USE OR FAILURE TO USE THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN. This Sun Alert notification contains Sun proprietary and confidential information. It is being provided to you pursuant to the provisions of your agreement to purchase services from Sun, or, if you do not have such an agreement, the Terms of Use. This Sun Alert notification may only be used for the purposes contemplated by these agreements.

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AnswerBook2 Documentation Server 1.4

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