Installing a compiler by default

Anders Karlsson trudheim at
Thu Jun 8 22:16:56 BST 2006

On Thu, 2006-06-08 at 16:19 -0400, Lee Revell wrote:
> If someone cracks a system don't you think they could just compile on
> their local machine and upload binaries?  I really don't understand the
> argument that having a compiler installed is a security issue.

Yes they can, and they may do even if gcc is available on the target
machine. But security practises are that you leave as few vectors open
as possible.

An example. You run httpd as the www-data user. There is a flaw in httpd
that allows buffer overflow that ultimately leads to shell as www-data
user. If gcc is available, the attacker can rapidly exploit the local
root vulnerability in the running kernel. If no c compiler (gcc), it
takes longer and is harder for the intruder to achieve his aim. Perhaps
long enough that the attackers actions are detected.

Convenience and security does not generally go hand in hand. Common
sense is not to install compilers unless you have to, as you give an
intruder tools and more vectors.

I fully agree with another poster, the Ubuntu Server install should
under no circumstances install a C compiler by default.

Kind Regards,

Anders Karlsson <trudheim at>
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