Note: This is an archival copy of Security Sun Alert 201182 as previously published on
Latest version of this security advisory is available from as Sun Alert 1000893.1.
Article ID : 1000893.1
Article Type : Sun Alerts (SURE)
Last reviewed : 2010-01-19
Audience : PUBLIC
Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2010, Oracle Corporation and/or its affiliates.

Security Vulnerability in "a2ps" May Allow A Local Unprivileged User to Execute Arbitrary Code


Release Phase

Bug Id

Date of Resolved Release


1. Impact

Insufficient validation of shell characters in "a2ps" causes a filename vulnerability that may allow a local unprivileged user to execute arbitrary code.

Note: The "Any to PostScript" filter (a2ps.1) formats files for printing to a PostScript printer.

A description of this issue can be found at

2. Contributing Factors

This issue can occur in the following releases:

Linux Platform

  • Sun Java Desktop System (JDS) 2003 without the updated RPMs (patch-9340)
  • Sun Java Desktop System (JDS) Release 2 without the updated RPMs (patch-9340)


  1. JDS for Solaris is not impacted by this issue.
  2. This issue only occurs with versions a2ps-4.13-1026 or earlier.

To determine the release of JDS for Linux installed on a system, the following command can be run:

    % cat /etc/sun-release
Sun Java Desktop System, Release 2 -build 10b (GA)
Assembled 30 March 2004

To determine the version of "a2ps" the following command can be run:

    % rpm -qf /usr/bin/a2ps

3. Symptoms

There are no predictable symptoms that would indicate the described issue has been exploited.

4. Workaround

To work around the described issue, remove the "a2ps RPM" by running the following command as "root":

    # rpm -e `rpm -qf /usr/bin/a2ps`

5. Resolution

This issue is addressed in the following releases:

Linux Platform

  • Sun Java Desktop System (JDS) 2003 with the updated RPMs (patch-9340)
  • Sun Java Desktop System (JDS) Release 2 with the updated RPMs (patch-9340)

To download and install the updated RPMs from the update servers, select the following sequence from the "launch" bar:

    Launch >> Applications >> System Tools >> Online Update

For more information on obtaining RPM updates, see:

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Sun Java Desktop System Release 2

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