OpenSSL 3 patch, once Heartbleed-level “critical,” arrives as a lesser “high”

Enlarge / The fallout of an OpenSSL vulnerability, initially listed as “critical,” should be much less severe than that of the last critical OpenSSL bug, Heartbleed.

An OpenSSL vulnerability once signaled as the first critical-level patch since the Internet-reshaping Heartbleed bug has just been patched. It ultimately arrived as a “high” security fix for a buffer overflow, one that affects all OpenSSL 3.x installations, but is unlikely to lead to remote code execution.

OpenSSL version 3.0.7 was announced last week as a critical security fix release. The specific vulnerabilities (now CVE-2022-37786 and CVE-2022-3602) had been largely unknown until today, but analysts and businesses in the web security field hinted there could be notable problems and maintenance pain. Some Linux distributions, including Fedora, held up releases until the patch was available. Distribution giant Akamai noted before the patch that half of their monitored networks had at least one machine with a vulnerable OpenSSL 3.x instance, and among those networks, between 0.2 and 33 percent of machines were vulnerable.

But the specific vulnerabilities—limited-circumstance, client-side overflows that are mitigated by the stack layout on most modern platforms—are now patched, and rated as “High.” And with OpenSSL 1.1.1 still in its long-term support phase, OpenSSL 3.x is not nearly as widespread.

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