Monday, December 17, 2012

Persistence is Key, Another Bug Hunt

There are few things I find more frustrating than looking for bugs and not finding a single one. I've seen and used buffer overflows and format string vulnerabilities in war games, I've even seen some of these bugs in real applications. Sometimes I choose a piece of software to assess and it's just rock solid.

But that's not a reason to stop.

I am specifically talking about Cerberus FTP Server which is, in my opinion, very well written - and it showed in that it provided me a great deal of difficulty in finding bugs through binary analysis like I have done in the past. I did get lucky enough to find a couple of bugs though, but only once I shifted my paradigm. One set is fairly trivial and the other is not as trivial and kind of hard to get to fire. This was all performed using Cerberus FTP Server v5.0.5.1.

Usually I'd discuss the whole process of my bug hunt, but in this case it was a long time to get so far. I started by seeking out printf/buffer overflow vulnerabilities, running some fuzzers and the like. All to no avail. An analysis of the binary showed a good indication of why:

This call to sprintf is of the "_s" variant. This means it is "security enhanced", as described here. I checked every single possibility for *printf and found very few potentially viable options. In part compilers now have warnings for these sorts of bugs, but also when the developer is aware of them too it's that much worse. Of the possibilities I did find I was later informed they exist in unused code sections which are presently unreachable. So whether or not they'll even be available is unknown much less vulnerable too, especially after mentioning them!

Moving Along:

Just to get into it, I gave up on the classics and moved to the modern world - web based attacks. This is an area of vast opportunity and means it's often fruitful. The bugs can slip in through many avenues, sometimes even shrouded under the guise of guessed safe practices.

Let's begin with the trivial bug. It is a Cross Site Scripting (XSS) scripting bug and it can be located in the "/servermanager" page of the web admin interface for Cerberus FTP Server. This interface is by default disabled. One enabled an administrative user may login at "http://localhost:10000/" Once the administrator is logged in they may find a link to the server manager page in the left menu. Or you may use "http://localhost:10000/servermanager"

It should look, something like this:
Select the "Messages" tab and you will be presented with the vulnerable page - though if the server has already been exploited, those should have already fired. The messages page looks like so:
Each of the message fields may be exploited trivially like so:
</textarea><script>alert('trivial xss');</script>

Click update to save the message, then reload the server manager page for the effect:

This as fun and all, but as one should note there is only 1 administrative user for the web interface and thus if this XSS bug is being leveraged - you probably have larger problems. None the less, this bug has been fixed and the latest version of Cerberus FTP has the corrections.

And a Little Harder:
Now for the more difficult bug. Having found a trivial XSS bug I now know that at least some fields may or may not be properly escaped. So the goal is to find other methods of interacting with the web interface that may not require authentication. Most of the options are available only to administrative users, and after exploring all the available options I finally decide to attempt to attack the "http://localhost:10000/log" page

First thing to note is the log is empty. Javascript is required for using the log page and it is on an 8 second update cycle. When log entries are shown you have approximately 2-3 seconds to review it before they are cleared. This plays a role in making this bug irritatingly difficult to fire. It should also be noted that the data transfer from the servers are in fact html encoded, hiding this bug from view in post-mortem analysis. No time like the present.

The log page is shown here, empty, waiting on it's 8 second cycle:
Normal usage will fill the log with events, but we're most curious about usage which does not require any form of authentication. To generate some "usage" traffic I write application in python (

import sys
import socket
sock = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
server_address = ('', 21)
data = sock.recv(128)
print >>sys.stderr, '%s' % data
user = "USER testuser\r\n"
data = sock.recv(128)
print >>sys.stderr, '%s' % data
quit = "QUIT\r\n"
Then I execute this from bash using a simple for loop, and I note that it returns the XSS banner we've already exploited.
for each in {1..100}
We execute this loop and look for the results, sometimes I had to run the script multiple times to get it to show:
Obviously we have some control over what is shown in this log even though we have not authenticated in any way. The real question is, does this render in a way which might be dangerous. To test, we merely adjust our 'testuser' to be something more effective fun:

USER <div onmouseover="alert('xss');" />

And run the loop again, because we're using the onmouseover - we'll need to fire this by mousing over the areas where the divs will be. If it works it should be immediately apparent.

And a Cross Site scripting bug is discovered. As with the other one I am told this bug has been patched and is no longer an issue. Special thanks to Grant @ Cerberus FTP for the fixes and extremely timely support given, this has been the best company I've had the pleasure to deal with so far in regards to security related matters.

For reference these bugs were assigned CVE-2012-6339.

See you next time and until then, Hack Safe, Hack Legal, but most of all Hack Fun!