VMware Security Advisories


VMware ESXi and ESX unauthorized file access through vCenter Server and ESX
1. Summary
VMware ESXi and ESX unauthorized file access through vCenter Server and ESX
2. Relevant releases

VMware ESXi 5.5 without patch ESXi550-201312001
VMware ESXi 5.1 without patch ESXi510-201310001
VMware ESXi 5.0 without patch update-from-esxi5.0-5.0_update03
VMware ESXi 4.1 without patch ESXi410-201312001
VMware ESXi 4.0 without patch ESXi400-201310001

VMware ESX 4.1 without patch ESX410-201312001
VMware ESX 4.0 without patch ESX400-201310001

3. Problem Description
a. VMware ESXi and ESX unauthorized file access through vCenter Server and ESX

VMware ESXi and ESX contain a vulnerability in the handling of certain Virtual Machine file descriptors. This issue may allow an unprivileged vCenter Server user with the privilege “Add Existing Disk” to obtain read and write access to arbitrary files on ESXi or ESX. On ESX, an unprivileged local user may obtain read and write access to arbitrary files. Modifying certain files may allow for code execution after a host reboot.

Unpriviledged vCenter Server users or groups that are assigned the predefined role “Virtual Machine Power User” or “Resource Pool Administrator” have the privilege “Add Existing Disk”.

The issue cannot be exploited through VMware vCloud Director.


  • A workaround is provided in VMware Knowledge Base article 2066856.


  • In a default vCenter Server installation no unprivileged users or groups are assigned the predefined role “Virtual Machine Power User” or “Resource Pool Administrator”.
  • Restrict the number of vCenter Server users that have the privilege “Add Existing Disk”.

VMware would like to thank Shanon Olsson for reporting this issue to us through JPCERT.

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project (cve.mitre.org) has assigned the name CVE-2013-5973 to this issue.

Column 4 of the following table lists the action required to remediate the vulnerability in each release, if a solution is available.

Known Issues (*)

Deploying these patches does not remediate the issue if the ESXi or ESX file /etc/vmware/configrules has been modified manually (modifying this file is uncommon). Customers who have modified this file should apply the workaround after installing the patch.

After deploying the patches, Virtual Machines that have their names ending in “-flat”, “-rdm” or “-rdmp” will no longer power on. See the VMware Knowledge Base article listed under “Workaround” for a solution.

4. Solution

Please review the patch/release notes for your product and version and verify the checksum of your downloaded file.
ESXi and ESX


ESXi 5.5
File: ESXi550-201312001.zip
md5sum: 549b5eb75f1d4d937019d2c28e15a4fe
sha1sum: c2656b25e2a85799d4aa79ded942d4c322e9487a
ESXi550-201312001 contains ESXi550-201312101-SG

ESXi 5.1
File: ESXi510-201310001.zip
md5sum: 00b6a97b3042dc45da52e20b67666387
sha1sum: 8b0e2e832d0c603991718da17e1f73de4f0969cc
ESXi510-201310001 contains ESXi510-201310101-SG

ESXi 5.0
File: update-from-esxi5.0-5.0_update03.zip
md5sum: 7e6185fa3238a4895613b39e57a2a94b
sha1sum: aa3929d2c8183aeaecdc238cbbf4d270bd70dd07
update-from-esxi5.0-5.0_update03 contains ESXi500-201310101-SG

ESXi 4.1
File: ESXi410-201312001.zip
md5sum: f85c0c449513b88b22f19a5f11966d5e
sha1sum: cfde5abbef77976b76d55813ae1e7bbbbca25b7b
ESXi410-201312001 contains ESXi410-201312401-SG

ESXi 4.0
File: ESXi400-201310001.zip
md5sum: 3075bce1b19a52b053a5dc18d06d40e0
sha1sum: 19952da0dd9f81ea299cb8ae6c462f11566b56e0
ESXi400-201310001 contains ESXi400-201310401-SG

ESX 4.1
File: ESX410-201312001.zip
md5sum: c35763a84db169dd0285442d4129cc18
sha1sum: ee8e1b8d2d383422ff0dde04749c5d89e77d8e40
ESX410-201312001 contains ESX410-201312401-SG

ESX 4.0
File: ESX400-201310001.zip
md5sum: 9d47cf815ed142a17f97002379b5e386
sha1sum: 91082ec4263333f9b996883cb53dbe9aab7a88b5
ESX400-201310001 contains ESX400-201310401-SG

6. Change log
2013-12-22 VMSA-2013-0016
Initial security advisory in conjunction with the release of ESXi 5.5 patches on 2013-12-22
7. Contact

E-mail list for product security notifications and announcements:

This Security Advisory is posted to the following lists:

* security-announce at lists.vmware.com
* bugtraq at securityfocus.com
* full-disclosure at lists.grok.org.uk

E-mail: security at vmware.com
PGP key at:  http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1055

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