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Current issue : #55 | Release date : 1999-09-09 | Editor : route
IntroductionPhrack Staff
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Phrack Line Noisevarious
Phrack Tribute to W. Richard StevensPhrack Staff
A Real NT RootkitGreg Hoglund
The Libnet Reference Manualroute
PERL CGI Problemsrfp
Frame Pointer Overwritingklog
Distributed Information Gatheringhybrid
Building Bastion Routers with IOSVariable K & Brett
Stego HashoConehead
Building Into The Linux Network Layerlifeline & kossak
The Black Book of AFSnicnoc
A Global Positioning System Primere5
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Phrack Magazine Extraction UtilityPhrack Staff
Title : PERL CGI Problems
Author : rfp
-------[  Phrack Magazine --- Vol. 9 | Issue 55 --- 09.09.99 --- 07 of 19  ]

-------------------------[  Perl CGI problems  ]

--------[  rain.forest.puppy / [ADM/Wiretrip] <rfp@wiretrip.net>  ]

----------------[  Intro

I guess I should have an intro as to what this is about.  Mostly, I've been
coding and auditing various CGIs, and was trying to figure out how to leverage
a few problems I thought were holes.  So whatever, I'll shutup and get onto
the holes.

----------------[  The Beef

----[  Poison NULL byte

Note:  The name `Poison NULL byte` was originally used by Olaf Kirch in a
Bugtraq post. I liked it, and it fit...  So I used.  Greetings to Olaf.

When does "root" != "root", but at the same time, "root" == "root" (Confused
yet)?  When you co-mingle programming languages.

One night I got to wondering, exactly what would Perl allow, and could I get
anything to blow up in unexpected ways.  So I started piping very weird data
out to various system calls and functions.  Nothing spectacular, except for
one that was quite notable...

You see, I wanted to open a particular file, "rfp.db".  I used a fake web
scenario to get an incoming value "rfp", tacked on a ".db", and then opened
the file.  In Perl, the functional part of the script was something like:

	# parse $user_input
	open(FILE "<$database");

Great.  I pass 'user_input=rfp', and the script tries to open "rfp.db".  
Pretty simple (let's ignore the obvious /../ stuff right now).

Then it got interesting when I passed 'user_input=rfp%00'.  Perl made 
$database="rfp\0.db", and then tried to open $database.  The results?  It 
opened "rfp" (or would have, had it existed).  What happened to the ".db"?  
This is the interesting part.

You see, Perl allows NUL characters in its variables as data.  Unlike C,
NUL is not a string delimiter.  So, "root" != "root\0".  But, the underlying
system/kernel calls are programmed in C, which DOES recognize NUL as a
delimiter.  So the end result?  Perl passes "rfp\0.db", but the underlying libs
stop processing when they hit the first (our) NUL.

What if we had a script that allowed trusted junior admins to change passwords
on anyone's account EXCEPT root?  The code could be:

	$user=$ARGV[1]  # user the jr admin wants to change
	if ($user ne "root"){
		# do whatever needs to be done for this user }

	(**NOTE: this is here in WAY simplistic form & theory just to 
		illustrate the point)

So, if the jr. admin tries 'root' as the name, it won't do anything.  But, if
the jr. admin passes 'root\0', Perl will succeed the test, and execute the
block.  Now, when systems calls are piped out (unless it's all done in Perl,
which is possible, but not likely), that NUL will be effectively dropped, and
actions will be happening on root's record.

While this is not necessarily a security problem in itself, it is definitely
an interesting feature to watch for.  I've seen many CGIs that tack on a
".html" to some user-submitted form data for the resulting page.  I.e. 

winds up showing me 1.html.  Semi-secure, because it adds ".html" page, so
you'd think, at worst, it'd only show HTML pages.  Well, if we send it 

	page.cgi?page=page.cgi%00      (%00 == '\0' escaped)

then the script will wind up feeding us a copy of its own source!  Even a
check with Perl's '-e' will fail:

	die("hahaha!  Caught you!) if($file eq "/etc/passwd");
	if (-e $file){
		open (FILE, ">$file");}

This will succeed (if there is, in fact, an /etc/passwd), and open it for

Solution?  Simple!  Remove NULs.  In Perl, it's as simple as

Note: don't escape them with the rest of the shell metacharacters.  Completely
remove them.

----[ (Back)slash and burn

If you take a look at the W3C WWW Security FAQ, you'll see the recommended
list of shell metacharacters is:


What I find the most interesting is everyone seems to forget about the
backslash  ('\').  Maybe it's just the way you need to write the escape code
in Perl:


With all those backslashes escaping [](){}, etc., it gets confusing to make
sure that the backslash is also accounted for (here, it's '\\').  Perhaps
some people are just regex-dyslexic, and think that by seeing one instance of
backslash it's accounted for.

So, of course, why is this important?  Imagine if you have the following line
submitted to your CGI:

	user data `rm -rf /`

You run it through your Perl escape code, which turns it into:

	user data \`rm -rf /\`

Which is now safe to use in shell operations, etc.  Now, let's say your forgot
to escape out backslashes.  The user submits the following line:

	user data \`rm -rf / \`

Your code changes it to:

	user data \\`rm -rf / \\`

The double backslashes will turn into a single 'data' backslash, leaving the
backticks unescaped.  This will then effectively run `rm -rf / \`.  Of course,
with this method, you'll always have spurious backslashes to deal with.
Leaving the backslash as the last character on the line will cause Perl to
error out on system and backtick calls (at least, in my testing it did).
You'll have to be sneaky to get around this.  ;)  (It is possible...)

Another interesting backslash side-effect comes from the following code to
prevent reverse directory transversals:


All it does is remove double dots, effectively squashing reverse transversal
of a file.  So,

will become


which doesn't work (Note: multiple slashes are allowed.  Try 'ls -l

Now, enter our friend the backslash.  Let's give the line


the regex expression will not match due to the backslash.  Now, go to use that
filename in Perl

	system("ls -l $file");

Note: we need to use double backslashes to get Perl to insert only one 'data'
backslash -- otherwise Perl assumes you're just escaping the periods.
Datawise, the string is still "/usr/tmp/.\./.\./etc/passwd".

However, the above only works on system and backtick calls.  Perl's '-e' and
open (non-piped) functions do NOT work.  Hence:

	open(FILE, "<$file") or die("No such file");

will die with "No such file".  My guess is because the shell is needed to
process the '\.' into '.' (as an escaped period is still just a period).

Solution?  Make sure you escape the backslash.  Simple enough.

----[  That pesky pipe

In Perl appending a '|' (pipe) onto the end of a filename in a open statement
causes Perl to run the file specified, rather than open it.  So,

	open(FILE, "/bin/ls")

will get you a lot of binary code, but

	open(FILE, "/bin/ls|")

will actually run /bin/ls.  Note that the following regex


will prevent this (Perl dies with a 'unexpected end of file', due to sh
wanting the nextline indicated by the trailing '\'.  If you find a way
around this, let me know).

Now we can complex the situation with the other techniques we just learned
above.  Let's assume $FORM is raw user-submitted input to the CGI.  First,
we have:

	open(FILE, "$FORM")

which we can set $FORM to "ls|" to get the directory listing.  Now, suppose we

	open(FILE, $filename)

then we need to specifically specify where "ls" is, so we set $FORM to
"../../../../bin/ls|", which gives us a directory listing.  Since this is
a piped open, our backslash technique to get around anti-reverse-traversal
regex's may be possibly used, if applicable.

Up to this point we can use command line options with command.  For example,
using the above code snippet, we could set $FORM to "touch /myself|" to
create the file /myself (sorry, couldn't resist the filename. :)

Next, we have a little harder situation:

	if(!(-e $filename)) die("I don't think so!")
	open(FILE, $filename)

Now we need to fool the '-e'.  Problem is that '-e' will come back as not
exist if it tries to find 'ls|', because it is looking for the filename with
the actual pipe on the end.  So, we need to 'remove' the pipe for the '-e'
check, but still have Perl see it.  Anything come to mind?  Poison NULL to
the rescue!  All we need to do is set $FORM to "ls\0|" (or, in escaped web
GET form, "ls%00|").  This causes the '-e' to check for "ls" (it stops
processing at our NUL, ignoring the pipe).  However, Perl still sees the pipe
at the end come time to open our file, so it will run our command.  There's
one catch, however...when Perl executes the our command, it stops at our NULL
-- this means we can't specify command line options.  Maybe examples will
better illustrate:

	$filename="/bin/ls /etc|"
	open(FILE, $filename)

This gives as a listing of the /etc directory.

	$filename="/bin/ls /etc\0|"
	if(!(-e $filename)) exit;
	open(FILE, $filename)

This will exit because '-e' sees "/bin/ls /etc" doesn't exist.

	$filename="/bin/ls\0 /etc|"
	if(!(-e $filename)) exit;
	open(FILE, $filename)

This will work, except we'll only get the listing of our current directory
(a plain 'ls')...it will not feed the '/etc' to ls as an argument.

<rant> I also want to make a note for you code junkies: if you lazy 
Perl programmers (not *ALL* Perl programmers; just the lazy ones) would
take the extra time to make your mind up and specify a specific file mode,
it would render this bug moot. </rant>

	open(FILE, $bug)
	open(FILE, "$bug")

work. But
	open(FILE, "<$bug")
	open(FILE, ">$bug")
	open(FILE, ">>$bug")

won't work.  So if you want to read in a file, then open "<$file", not just
$file.  Inserting that less-then sign (one measly character!) can save
you and your server a lot of grief. </rant>

Ok, now that we have a few weapons, let's go engage the enemy.

----------------[  Real life (insecure) Perl scripts

Our first CGI I snagged off of freecode.com.  It's a classified ad manager
script.  From the CGI file:

	#       First version 1.1
	#       Dan Bloomquist dan@lakeweb.net

Now the first example...Dan parses all incoming form variables into %DATA.
He doesn't strip '..', nor NUL characters.  So, let's take a peek at a
snippet of code:

	#This sets the real paths to the html and lock files.
	#It is done here, after the POST data is read.
	#of the classified page.
	$pageurl= $realpath . $DATA{ 'adPath' } . ".html";
	$lockfile= $realpath . $DATA{ 'adPath' } . ".lock";

Using 'adPath=/../../../../../etc/passwd%00' we can specify $pageurl to
point to the /etc/passwd file.  Ditto for the $lockfile.  We can't use the
appended pipe, because he appends the ".html"/".lock" afterwards (well,
you CAN use it, but it's not going to work. ;)

	#Read in the classified page
	open( FILE,"$pageurl" ) || die "can't open to read 
		$pageurl: $!\n";
	@lines= <FILE>;
	close( FILE );

Here Dan reads in $pageurl, which is the file we specified.  Fortunately
for Dan, he then immediately opens $pageurl for write.  So whatever we
specify to read, we also need rights to write it.  This does limit the
exploitation potential.  But it serves as a great real-life example of
this type of problem.

Interestingly enough, Dan does go on to:

	#Send your mail out.
	      open( MAIL, "|$mailprog $DATA{ 'adEmail' }" )
        	 || die "can't open sendmail: $adEmail: $!\n";

Hmmmmm...this is your standard no-no.  And Dan doesn't parse shell
metacharacters, so that 'adEmail' gets pretty scary.

Sticking around freecode.com, I then got a simple form logger:

	# flexform.cgi
	# Written by Leif M. Wright
	# leif@conservatives.net

Leif parses form input into %contents, and doesn't escape shell
metacharacters.  Then he does

	$output = $basedir . $contents{'file'};
	open(RESULTS, ">>$output");

Using our standard reverse directory transversal, we don't even have to NUL
out an extension.  Whatever file we specify is opened for append, so again, we
need to get a little lucky with our permissions.  Again, our pipe bug
won't work because he  specifically set the mode to append (via the '>>').

Next is LWGate, which is a WWW interface to many popular mailing list packages.

	# lwgate by David W. Baker, dwb@netspace.org # 
	# Version 1.16 #

Dave puts parsed form variables into %CGI.  Then we have

	# The mail program we pipe data to
	$temp = $CGI{'email'}; 
	$temp =~ s/([;<>\*\|`&\$!#\(\)\[\]\{\}:'"])/\\$1/g; 
	$MAILER = "/usr/sbin/sendmail -t -f$temp"

	open(MAIL,"| $MAILER") || &ERROR('Error Mailing Data')

Hmmmm...Dave seems to have forgotten the backslash in his regex replacement.
Not good.  

Ok, let's switch to one of the many shopping cart applications.  This one,
again, was yanked from freecode.com, Perlshop. 

	$PerlShop_version = 3.1; 
	# A product of ARPAnet Corp. - 
		perlshop@arpanet.com, www.arpanet.com/perlshop 

The interesting part is:

	open (MAIL, "|$blat_loc - -t $to -s $subject") 
		|| &err_trap("Can't open $blat_loc!\n")

$to is obviously the user-defined email. Blat is a NT mail program.  Remember
that shell metacharacters on NT are <>&|% (maybe more?).

Remember the pesky pipe problem I mentioned?  (I hope you remember it...  It
was only a few paragraphs ago!).  I admit, it's a very unlikely bug, but I
did find it.  Let's head over to Matt's Script Archive.

	# File Download                     Version 1.0  
	# Copyright 1996 Matthew M. Wright  mattw@worldwidemart.com

First he parses incoming user data into $Form (not escaping anything).  Then
he runs the following:

	$Request_File = $BASE_DIR . $Form{'s'} . '/' . $Form{'f'};

	if (!(-e $filename)) {
		&error('File Does Not Exist');
	elsif (!(-r $filename)) {
		&error('File Permissions Deny Access');

		while (<FILE>) {

This fits the criteria for the 'pesky pipe problem' (tm).  We do have the
'-e' check, so we don't get to use command line args.  Since he sticks
$BASE_DIR on the front, we'll need to use reverse directory transversal.

I'm sure you looking at the above (should) see a much more simpler problem.
What if f=../../../../../../etc/passwd?  Well, if it exists, and is
readable, it'll show it to you.  And yes, it does.  One other note: all
accesses to download.cgi are logged by the following code:

	    print LOG "$Date|$Form{'s'}|$Form{'c'}|$Form{'f'}\n";

So you'll be on candid camera for everything you do.  But you shouldn't be
doing mean stuff to other people's servers anyways. ;)

Let's fly over to BigNoseBird.com.  Script I have in mind:

	#(c)1997 BigNoseBird.Com
	#  Version 2.2 Dec. 26, 1998

The code of interest is after the script opens a pipe to sendmail as MAIL:

	  if ($fields{'automessage'} ne "")
	    open (AM,"< $fields{'automessage'}");
	    while (<AM>)
	      chop $_;
	      print MAIL "$_\n";

This is another simple one.  BNB doesn't do any parsing of the user input
variables (in $fields), so we can specify any file we want for 'automessage'.
Assuming it's readable by the web server context, it will get mailed to
whatever address we put (or so the theory goes).

----------------[ Drats...That's the End

Sure is.  By this time I was a little tired of wading through Perl code.  I'll
leave it as an exercise for all of you to go find more.  And if you do,
drop me a line--especially if you find some scripts that you can make use
of the 'pesky pipe problem'.  Anyways, that's all I wrote for this one, so
till next time people.

.rain.forest.puppy. [ADM/Wiretrip]  rfp@wiretrip.net

Greets can be found at http://www.el8.org/~rfp/greets.html

----[  EOF
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