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Security researchers have found a privilege escalation vulnerability in pkexec, a tool that’s present by default on many Linux installations. The flaw, called PwnKit, could allow attackers to easily gain root privileges on systems if they have access to a regular user without administrative privileges.

Researchers from security firm Qualys who discovered and reported the vulnerability were able to confirm it is exploitable in default configurations on some of the most popular Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and CentOS. They believe others are likely impacted as well, since the vulnerable code has existed in pkexec since the tool’s first version, over 12 years ago.

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