Linux Bug in All Major Distros: ‘An Attacker’s Dream Come True’

The 12-year-old flaw in the sudo-like polkit’s pkexec tool, found in all major Linux distributions, is likely to be exploited in the wild within days.

Every major Linux distribution has an easily exploited memory-corruption bug that’s been lurking for 12 years – a stunning revelation that’s likely to be followed soon by in-the-wild exploits.

Found in polkit’s pkexec – a tool for controlling system-wide privileges in Unix-like operating systems that allows a user to execute commands as another user, serving as an alternative to sudo – successful exploitation gives full root access to any unprivileged user.

Qualys researchers, who discovered the long-dormant powderkeg and named it PwnKit, said in a Tuesday report that they developed an exploit and obtained full root privileges on default installations of Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and CentOS, while they believe that other Linux distributions are “likely vulnerable and probably exploitable.”

012622 13:02 UPDATE: A Qualys representative told Threatpost that, essentially, no this has exploited the vulnerability in the wild – at least, not that Qualys knows or has seen. “But the exploit was so trivial that Qualys decided not to publish it when the vulnerability was made public,” the spokesperson said on

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