IBM GPFS / Spectrum Scale Command Injection

A command injection vulnerability in GPFS / Spectrum Scale allows attackers to escalate privileges to root

Product: IBM GPFS / Spectrum Scale
Severity: High
CVE Reference: CVE-2016-0392
Type: Command injection
Author: John Fitzpatrick (@j0hn__f)
Date: 2016-06-07


IBM’s General Parallel File System (GPFS), now known as Spectrum Scale, is affected by a vulnerability that allows an adversary on any system which mounts GPFS to inject commands which are later executed as root.


Exploitation of this vulnerability allows any user of a system with a GPFS filesystem mounted to execute commands as root across the GPFS cluster.


This is caused by a failure to safely handle arguments supplied to a number of setuid binaries.

Affected Versions

IBM Spectrum Scale V4.2.0.0 thru V4.2.0.2
IBM Spectrum Scale V4.1.1.0 thru V4.1.1.6
IBM GPFS V4.1.0.0 thru V4.1.0.8
IBM GPFS V3.5.0.0 thru V3.5.0.30
All older IBM GPFS versions no longer supported

Interim Workaround

IBM have provided patches in order to resolve this issue. It is recommended that these patches (described in the ‘Solution’ section below) are applied. However, if this is not possible some workarounds may also be applied:

Remove the setuid from the files in the /usr/lpp/mmfs/bin directory. These can be identified by running

ls -l /usr/lpp/mmfs/bin | grep r-s

Reset the setuid bit for each such file by issuing this command on each file

chmod u-s file

Once the workaround is applied, a number of commands may no longer work when not invoked by unprivileged users, including:


(These workarounds are taken from the IBM supplied advisory which can be found at:

If the workarounds would not affect the usability of GPFS within your environment, then HPCsec recommend applying these workarounds in addition to the IBM supplied patches detailed below.


IBM have provided fixes for this issue; however, HPCsec have not tested the effectiveness of these patches:

For IBM Spectrum Scale V4.2.0.0 thru V4.2.0.2, apply IBM Spectrum Scale V4.2.0.3 available from Fix Central at:

For IBM Spectrum Scale V4.1.1.0 thru and IBM GPFS V4.1.0.0 thru V4.1.0.8, apply V4.1.1.7 at:

For IBM GPFS V3.5.0.0 thru V3.5.0.30, apply V3.5.0.31 at:

For older versions of IBM GPFS, if you have an extended service contract, please contact IBM Service.

(These solutions are taken from the IBM supplied advisory which can be found at:

Further Information

The IBM advisory relating to this issue can be found at the following location:

This issue is closely related to a format string issue in GPFS (CVE-2015-0197) found by Florian Grunwo and Felix Wilhelm of ERNW:

Further technical information may be released at a later date when users have had a chance to resolve this issue.


2016-04-02: Issue reported to vendor
2016-05-31: Patch and vendor advisory released
2016-06-07: Advisory released