I've just heard of this bug "Dirty COW" that allows any user with read access to files to also write to them and gain administrative access. How do I protect against this bug?
The Ancient Dirty COW Bug
This bug has been around since Kernel version 2.6.22. It allows a local user with read access to gain administrative privileges. A warning has been issued (Softpedia: Linux Kernels 4.8.3, 4.7.9 & 4.4.26 LTS Out to Patch "Dirty COW" Security Flaw) and users are urged to upgrade to Kernel Linux kernel 4.8.3, Linux kernel 4.7.9, and Linux kernel 4.4.26 LTS. THIS LINK IS MISLEADING because these Kernel versions are not supported by Ubuntu.
This answer is tailored for Ubuntu users and tells you:
- Recommended Kernel Versions for Ubuntu users
- How to display your current Kernel Version
- How to apply fix for Ubuntu Supported Kernels
- How to apply fix for Non-Supported Ubuntu Kernels
Ubuntu users "Dirty COW" recommended Kernels
Ubuntu released security updates on October 20, 2016 to patch the Kernel used by all supported Ubuntu versions: Softpedia: Canonical Patches Ancient "Dirty COW" Kernel Bug in All Supported Ubuntu OSes
Canonical is urging all users to patch their systems immediately by installing:
- linux-image-4.8.0-26 (4.8.0-26.28) for Ubuntu 16.10
- linux-image-4.4.0-45 (4.4.0-45.66) for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
- linux-image-3.13.0-100 (3.13.0-100.147) for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
- linux-image-3.2.0-113 (3.2.0-113.155) for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
- linux-image-4.4.0-1029-raspi2 (4.4.0-1029.36)
The Xenial HWE kernel for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS was updated as well, to version linux-image-4.4.0-45 (4.4.0-45.66~14.04.1), and the Trusty HWE kernel for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to version linux-image-3.13.0-100 (3.13.0-100.147~precise1).
Please update your Ubuntu installations immediately by following the instructions provided by Canonical at: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Security/Upgrades .
Display your current Kernel Version
To display your current running Kernel version open the terminal with Ctrl+Alt+T and then type:
The kernel version you booted with is then displayed like this:
Linux dell 4.8.1-040801-generic #201610071031 SMP Fri Oct 7 14:34:10 UTC 2016 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
Remember after you install the new kernel with the patches, you can still boot older kernel versions from Grub. Older versions will not have the patch applied, which is the case of this kernel version 4.8.1.
Once again remember kernel version 4.8.1 is not supported by Ubuntu.
How to fix for Ubuntu supported Kernels
Since Ubuntu has released the fix of the bug, All users need to do is upgrade their system. If daily security updates are enabled the kernel upgrade has already been done. Check your kernel version to the list of kernels above.
If Ubuntu has not automatically upgraded your kernel version then run:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
After rebooting check your current kernel version by repeating the previous section instructions.
How to fix for Non-supported Ubuntu Kernels
Some installations with newer hardware may be using an unsupported Kernel such as
4.8.1 or greater. If so you will need to manually upgrade the Kernel. Although the bug report link above says to use Kernel
4.8.3, As of October 30, 2016,
4.8.5 is the most recent and this is how to install it:
sudo dpkg -i *.deb
After rebooting check your current kernel version by repeating the instructions two sections back.
I am not an expert at all, but having read up on the "Dirty COW" a bit, I felt I really wanted to check whether I am alright after completing my most recent update only a couple of hrs ago.
From the results of my keyword search I picked this article & discussion as sounding promising. Now, I have easily managed to verify the "COW-patched" status of my Xenial Xerox system by first following the above article's instructions to Display your current Kernel Version (turns out, it's:
uname -a does not detail the patches, it displayed the currently installed kernel version, which allowed me to follow user 643722's suggestion - and successfully so:
apt list --installed | grep linux-image-4.4.0-45
Although an unexpected extra line was displayed...
WARNING: apt does not have a stable CLI interface.
Use with caution in scripts.
... the hoped-for information followed in the next line:
linux-image-4.4.0-45-generic/xenial-updates,xenial-security,now 4.4.0-45.66 amd64 [Installiert,automatisch]
Thanks to all - for speedy implementation of solutions into updates by Linux/Ubuntu contributors, and speedy diffusion of knowledge among users.
You need to upgrade your packages using
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Also you can enable the livepach service :
Coincidentally, just before the vulnerability was published, we released the Canonical Livepatch Service for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The thousands of users who enabled canonical-livepatch on their Ubuntu 16.04 LTS systems with those first few hours received and applied the fix to Dirty COW, automatically, in the background, and without rebooting!
Go to https://ubuntu.com/livepatch and retrieve your livepatch token Install the canonical-livepatch snap
$ sudo snap install canonical-livepatch
Enable the service with your token
$ sudo canonical-livepatch enable [TOKEN]
check the status at any time using:
$ canonical-livepatch status --verbose
`$ sudo apt install unattended-upgrades
Older versions of Ubuntu (or Ubuntu systems that upgraded to 16.04) might need to enable this behavior using:
$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure unattended-upgrades