This report is about the problematic use of fixed temporary paths in the hpps program from the hplip project. Hplip is a collection of utilities for HP printer and scanner devices.

There is currently no upstream fix available for this issue and this publication happens after 90 days of attempted coordinated disclosure, but upstream did not react to my report.

Update 2024-01-04: I have been informed that upstream release 3.23.12 published on 2023-11-30 silently fixes this issue. The fix is based on the patch that I suggested in this report.

This report is based on the latest upstream release 3.23.8 of hplip.

The Issue

The program /usr/lib/cups/filter/hpps uses a number of insecure fixed temporary files that can be found in prnt/hpps/hppsfilter.c:

prnt/hpps/hppsfilter.c:1027:        sprintf(booklet_filename, "/tmp/","booklet");
prnt/hpps/hppsfilter.c:1028:        sprintf(temp_filename, "/tmp/","temp");
prnt/hpps/hppsfilter.c:1029:        sprintf(Nup_filename, "/tmp/","NUP");

These paths are only used if “booklet printing” is enabled. For testing, the logic can be forced by invoking the program similar to this:

$ export PPD=/usr/share/cups/model/manufacturer-PPDs/hplip-plugin/hp-laserjet_1020.ppd.gz
$ /usr/lib/cups/filter/hpps some-job some-user some-title 10 HPBookletFilter=10,fitplot,Duplex=DuplexTumble,number-up=1

The program will expect data to print on stdin this way. Just typing in some random data and pressing Ctrl-d will make it continue. There is a chance that it will crash, though, since error returns from parsing errors are largely not checked in this program.

The three paths are created and opened using fopen(), so no special open flags are in effect that would prevent following symlinks, also the O_EXCL flag is missing to prevent opening existing files. The resulting system calls look like this (for creation / opening for reading):

openat(AT_FDCWD, "/tmp/", O_WRONLY|O_CREAT|O_TRUNC, 0666) = 3
openat(AT_FDCWD, "/tmp/", O_RDONLY)

Furthermode there is a chmod() on the /tmp/ file:

hppsfilter.c:110 chmod(temp_filename, S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR | S_IRGRP | S_IROTH);

The data to print (from stdin) is written to this file, and the file is also made world readable explicitly via this chmod(). The issues with these paths are multifold:

  • There is a local information leak, since the print job data will become visible to everybody in the system.
  • There is violated data integrity, since other users can pre-create these files and manipulate e.g. the data to print.
  • This may allow to create files in unexpected places, by placing symbolic links, if the Linux kernel’s symlink protection is not active.
  • Similarly it may allow to grant world read privileges to arbitrary files by following symlinks during the chmod().
  • It may allow further unspecified impact if crafted data is placed into /tmp/ which is processed by the complex PS_Booklet() function.

I did not research the impact of the issue further to see whether this could lead to local code execution in the context of the user that is invoking hpps.

Suggested Patch

To fix this issue all three fixed temporary paths need to be replaced by unpredictably named temporary files that are safely created. I authored a suggested patch that accomplishes this. This patch also drops the chmod(). The purpose of it is unclear, so it is possible that this breaks something, if other processes with different privileges need to access this file.

There is no patch or any other information available from upstream.


Since, to my knowledge, there is no public version control system for hplip, it is difficult to determine when this issue has been introduced. By taking some samples from older SUSE distributions I found the issue to be present at least since upstream release 3.19.12 from 2019-12-12.

CVE Assignment

Since HP is a CVE CNA, it is itself responsible for assigning a CVE. Since there is no reaction from upstream I don’t know if or when CVEs will be available.


2023-08-21 I reported the finding privately to upstream via Launchpad, offering coordinated disclosure. No other means of contact are documented for hplip.
2023-09-05 Since I did not get any feedback yet I urged upstream via Launchpad to provide a response.
2023-10-04 I shared the suggested patch with upstream, still no response.
2023-11-17 The 90 days maximum embargo time we offer approached and we published the finding.
2024-01-04 I got informed that upstream silently fixed the issue on 2023-11-30 in release 3.23.12.