The vulnerability affects both the 2.2 and 2.4 series of Linux kernels, the core of the operating system, said Alan Cox, one of the key deputies of Linux founder Linus Torvalds in the programming community that collectively produces Linux. Those kernels are at the center of several Linux products released recently from companies such as Red Hat and SuSE.

The problem could let "local" computer users--those with permission to log on to a machine--to gain "root" access and take complete control of the machine, Cox said. Such local vulnerabilities are considered less severe than remote ones that let attackers over a network take over a machine even if they don't have a basic user account on it.
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