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Red Hat warns of security patch hoax for Linux users

A fake security e-mail is being sent out to users

By Todd R. Weiss
October 25, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. is warning customers about an e-mail hoax that urges them to download security patches that actually contain malicious payloads.
In a note to customers on its Web site, Red Hat said it "has been made aware that e-mails are circulating that pretend to come from the Red Hat Security Team. These e-mails tell users to download and install malicious updates. These Trojan updates contain malicious code designed to compromise the systems they are run on."
The company said that "official messages from the Red Hat security team are never sent unsolicited" and are always sent from the address All security messages are also digitally signed using GNU Privacy Guard security keys to prove their authenticity, the Raleigh, N.C.-based company said.
"All official updates for Red Hat products are digitally signed and should not be installed unless they are correctly signed and the signature is verified," the company said.
A spokesman for the company couldn't be reached for comment this morning.
One example of the hoax e-mail is dated Oct. 20 and claims that "Redhat [sic] found a vulnerability in fileutils (ls and mkdir), that could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code with root privileges. Some of the affected linux distributions include RedHat 7.2, RedHat 7.3, RedHat 8.0, RedHat 9.0, Fedora CORE 1, Fedora CORE 2 and not only. It is known that *BSD and Solaris platforms are NOT affected."
The hoax e-mail claims that "the RedHat Security Team strongly advises you to immediately apply the fileutils-1.0.6 patch," which it calls a "critical-critical update."
The hoax e-mail also points the recipient to an alleged Security RedHat mirror Web site where the malicious download, 1.0.6.patch.tar.gz, can be obtained. "Again, please apply this patch as soon as possible or you risk your system and others' to be compromised," the hoax e-mail says.

Read more about Linux and Unix in Computerworld's Linux and Unix Topic Center.

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