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Home » Security Advisories» FreeBSD » Pine port insecure URL handling

Pine port insecure URL handling

Due to a programming error, PINE does not properly escape meta-characters in the URL before passing it to the command shell as an argument to the web browser.

  • Vendor: FreeBSD
  • Vendor ID: SA-02:05
  • Date: January 04, 2002


FreeBSD-SA-02:05 Security Advisory
FreeBSD, Inc.

Topic: pine port insecure URL handling [REVISED]

Category: ports
Module: pine
Announced: 2002-01-04
Revised: 2002-01-10
Credits: zen-parse
Affects: Ports collection prior to the correction date
Corrected: 2002-01-10 16:47:18 UTC
FreeBSD only: NO

0. Revision History

v1.0 2002-01-04 Initial release.
v1.1 2002-01-10 Corrected vulnerable versions and the `Corrected details'

I. Background

PINE is an application for reading mail and news.

II. Problem Description

The pine port, versions previous to pine-4.44, handles URLs in
messages insecurely. PINE allows users to launch a web browser to
visit a URL embedded in a message. Due to a programming error, PINE
does not properly escape meta-characters in the URL before passing it
to the command shell as an argument to the web browser.

The pine port is not installed by default, nor is it "part of FreeBSD"
as such: it is part of the FreeBSD ports collection, which contains
over 6000 third-party applications in a ready-to-install format. The
ports collection shipped with FreeBSD 4.4 contains this problem since
it was discovered after the release.

FreeBSD makes no claim about the security of these third-party
applications, although an effort is underway to provide a security
audit of the most security-critical ports.

III. Impact

An attacker can supply commands enclosed in single quotes ('') in a
URL embedded in a message sent to the victim. If the user then
decides to view the URL, PINE will launch a command shell which will
then execute the attacker's commands with the victim's privileges. It
is possible to obfuscate the URL so that it will not necessarily seem
dangerous to the victim.

IV. Workaround

1) Deinstall the pine port/package if you have it installed.

V. Solution

1) Upgrade your entire ports collection and rebuild the port.

2) Deinstall the old package and install a new package dated after the
correction date, obtained from the following directories:


Packages are not automatically generated for the alpha architecture at
this time due to lack of build resources.

NOTE: It may be several days before updated packages are available.

3) Download a new port skeleton for the pine port from:

and use it to rebuild the port.

4) Use the portcheckout utility to automate option (3) above. The
portcheckout port is available in /usr/ports/devel/portcheckout or the
package can be obtained from:

VI. Correction details

The following list contains the $FreeBSD$ revision numbers of each
file that was corrected in the FreeBSD Ports Collection since

Path Revision
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------
ports/mail/pine4/Makefile 1.61
ports/mail/pine4/distinfo 1.20
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-aa 1.4
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-ac 1.11
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-af 1.12
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-ai 1.11
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-aj 1.5
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-ak 1.6
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-al 1.11
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-am 1.6
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-an 1.5
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-ap 1.3
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-at 1.6
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-au 1.4
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-ax 1.5
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-az 1.3
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-be 1.1
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-bf 1.1
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-bg 1.1
ports/mail/pine4/files/patch-reply.c 1.2
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (FreeBSD)
Comment: For info see


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