Executive Summary

This Alert is flagged as TOP 25 Common Weakness Enumeration from CWE/SANS. For more information, you can read this.
Title pppd vulnerable to buffer overflow due to a flaw in EAP packet processing
Name VU#782301 First vendor Publication 2020-03-23
Vendor VU-CERT Last vendor Modification 2020-06-15
Severity (Vendor) N/A Revision M

Security-Database Scoring CVSS v3

Cvss vector : CVSS:3.1/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H
Overall CVSS Score 9.8
Base Score 9.8 Environmental Score 9.8
impact SubScore 5.9 Temporal Score 9.8
Exploitabality Sub Score 3.9
Attack Vector Network Attack Complexity Low
Privileges Required None User Interaction None
Scope Unchanged Confidentiality Impact High
Integrity Impact High Availability Impact High
Calculate full CVSS 3.0 Vectors scores

Security-Database Scoring CVSS v2

Cvss vector : (AV:N/AC:L/Au:N/C:P/I:P/A:P)
Cvss Base Score 7.5 Attack Range Network
Cvss Impact Score 6.4 Attack Complexity Low
Cvss Expoit Score 10 Authentication None Required
Calculate full CVSS 2.0 Vectors scores



pppd (Point to Point Protocol Daemon) versions 2.4.2 through 2.4.8 are vulnerable to buffer overflow due to a flaw in Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) packet processing in eap_request and eap_response subroutines.


PPP is the protocol used for establishing internet links over dial-up modems, DSL connections, and many other types of point-to-point links including Virtual Private Networks (VPN) such as Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). The pppd software can also authenticate a network connected peer and/or supply authentication information to the peer using multiple authentication protocols including EAP.

Due to a flaw in the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) packet processing in the Point-to-Point Protocol Daemon (pppd), an unauthenticated remote attacker may be able to cause a stack buffer overflow, which may allow arbitrary code execution on the target system. This vulnerability is due to an error in validating the size of the input before copying the supplied data into memory. As the validation of the data size is incorrect, arbitrary data can be copied into memory and cause memory corruption possibly leading to execution of unwanted code.

The vulnerability is in the logic of the eap parsing code, specifically in the eap_request() and eap_response() functions in eap.c that are called by a network input handler. These functions take a pointer and length as input using the the first byte as a type. If the type is EAPT_MD5CHAP(4), it looks at an embedded 1-byte length field. The logic in this code is intended to makes sure that embedded length is smaller than the whole packet length. After this verification, it tries to copy provided data (hostname) that is located after the embedded length field into a local stack buffer. This bounds check is incorrect and allows for memory copy to happen with an arbitrary length of data.

An additional logic flaw causes the eap_input() function to not check if EAP has been negotiated during the Link Control Protocol (LCP) phase. This allows an unauthenticated attacker to send an EAP packet even if ppp refused the authentication negotiation due to lack of support for EAP or due to mismatch of an agreed pre-shared passphrase in the LCP phase. The vulnerable pppd code in eap_input will still process the EAP packet and trigger the stack buffer overflow. This unverified data with an unknown size can be used to corrupt memory of the target system. The pppd often runs with high privileges (system or root) and works in conjunction with kernel drivers. This makes it possible for an attacker to potentially execute arbitrary code with system or root level privileges.

The pppd software is also adopted into lwIP (lightweight IP) project to provide pppd capabilities for small devices. The default installer and packages of lwIP are not vulnerable to this buffer overflow. However if you have used the lwIP source code and configured specifically to enable EAP at compile time, your software is likely vulnerable to the buffer overflow. The recommended update is available from Git repoistory http://git.savannah.nongnu.org/cgit/lwip.git.

This type of weakness is commonly associated in Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) with CWE-120 Buffer Copy without Checking Size of Input ('Classic Buffer Overflow'). A Proof-of-Concept exploit for PPTP VPN Servers with additional tools are available in the by CERT/CC PoC repository.


By sending an unsolicited EAP packet to a vulnerable ppp client or server, an unauthenticated remote attacker could cause memory corruption in the pppd process, which may allow for arbitrary code execution.


Apply updates

Update your software with the latest available patches provided by your software vendor. It is incorrect to assume that pppd is not vulnerable if EAP is not enabled or EAP has not been negotiated by a remote peer using a secret or passphrase. This is due to the fact that an authenticated attacker may still be able to send unsolicited EAP packet to trigger the buffer overflow.

If your software is packaged and created from the ppp source code, please obtain the latest software from github pppd repository.
Patch referenced :

In case of lwIP package that is compiled from source with EAP enabled at compile time, obtain the latest software from github
Patch referenced:

Note: the latest software also includes ignoring out-of-order or unsolicited EAP packets from being processed as an additional precautionary measure. It is recommended that you use the latest available software from the appropriate Git repository that includes this fix.

Proof of Concept (PoC)

A proof-of-concept for testing if a PPTP server is vulnerable to cve-2020-8597 is available in the CERT/CC PoC respository

Detection Signature (IDS)

A Snort/Surricata IDS rule to detect cve-2020-8597 buffer overflow attempts against PPTP servers is also available in the CERT/CC PoC respository.


There is no viable work around except to patch the software with updated software made available by the software vendors.


Thanks to Ilja Van Sprundel from IOActive for reporting this vulnerability.

This document was written by Vijay Sarvepalli.

Original Source

Url : https://kb.cert.org/vuls/id/782301

CWE : Common Weakness Enumeration

% Id Name
100 % CWE-120 Buffer Copy without Checking Size of Input ('Classic Buffer Overflow') (CWE/SANS Top 25)

CPE : Common Platform Enumeration

Application 5

Alert History

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Date Informations
2020-06-15 17:17:33
  • Multiple Updates
2020-06-12 21:17:42
  • Multiple Updates
2020-06-11 00:17:33
  • Multiple Updates
2020-05-23 13:15:40
  • First insertion