Attacker Value
(1 user assessed)
Very High
(1 user assessed)
User Interaction
Privileges Required
Attack Vector


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VMware Workspace ONE Access, Identity Manager and vRealize Automation contains a privilege escalation vulnerability. A malicious actor with local access can escalate privileges to ‘root’.

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Technical Analysis

The VMware Workspace ONE Access, Identity Manager, and vRealize Automation products contain a locally exploitable vulnerability whereby the under-privileged horizon user can escalate their permissions to those of the root user. Notably, the horizon user runs the externally accessible web application. This means that remote code execution (RCE) within that component could be chained with this vulnerability to obtain remote code execution as the root user.

The vulnerability is due to the fact that the permissions on the file /opt/vmware/certproxy/bin/ are such that the horizon user is both the owner and has access to invoke this file.

To demonstrate and exploit this vulnerability, that file is overwritten, and then the following command is executed as the horizon user:

sudo /usr/local/horizon/scripts/ restart

Note, that depending on the patch level of the system, the script may be located at an alternative path and require a slightly different command:

sudo /opt/vmware/certproxy/bin/ restart

In both cases, the horizon user is able to invoke the script from sudo without a password. This can be verified by executing sudo -n --list. The script invokes the systemctl command to restart the service based on its configuration file. The service configuration file, located at /run/systemd/generator.late/vmware-certproxy.service, dispatches to /etc/rc.d/init.d/vmware-certproxy through the ExecStart and ExecStop directives, which in turn executes /opt/vmware/certproxy/bin/

The horizon user should not be the owner of or have write access to any executable files that run as root.

See the original disclosure for more information. This vulnerability has a public exploit in the form of a Metasploit module.

General Information


  • VMware Workspace ONE Access, Identity Manager and vRealize Automation

Additional Info

Technical Analysis