Vulnerabilities recently discovered by Microsoft make it easy for people with a toehold on many Linux desktop systems to quickly gain root system rights— the latest elevation of privileges flaw to come to light in the open source OS.
As operating systems have been hardened to withstand compromises in recent years, elevation of privilege (EoP) vulnerabilities have become a crucial ingredient for most successful hacks. They can be exploited in concert with other vulnerabilities that on their own are often considered less severe, with the latter giving what’s called local access and the former escalating the root access. From there, adversaries with physical access or limited system rights can deploy backdoors or execute code of their choice.
Nimbuspwn, as Microsoft has named the EoP threat, is two vulnerabilities that reside in the networkd-dispatcher, a component in many Linux distributions that dispatch network status changes and can run various scripts to respond to a new status. When a machine boots, networkd-dispatcher runs as root.