The file command is used to identify a particular file according to the type of data contained by the file.
The file utility before version 3.41 contains a buffer overflow vulnerability in the ELF parsing routines. This vulnerability may allow an attacker to create a carefully crafted binary which can cause arbitrary code to run if a victim runs the file command against that binary.
On some distributions it may also be possible to trigger this file command vulnerability by encouraging the victim to use the less command on an exploited file name so that it will be processed by the lesspipe.sh script.
All users are advised to update to these erratum packages which contain a backported patch to correct this vulnerability.
Red Hat would like to thank iDefense for disclosing this issue and zen-parse for discussion of some of the implications.