Project RIPS v0.54 – Status

February 1, 2013

I just updated RIPS and fixed some JavaScript errors that came up due to the latest browser updates (thank you for the reports). You can download it here. Now the code viewer and other window features should work again. At the same time I am announcing that the current version of RIPS will not be enhanced. The current engine does not allow further enhancement and suffers from bad language parsing. This leads to an inacceptable rate of false positives. Further, the current engine can not be extended to support OOP.

The good news is that I have rewritten RIPS completely during the past 6 month during my final master thesis at the Ruhr-University Bochum. RIPS 1.0 now uses Abstract Syntax Trees, Control Flow Graphs, and Context-Sensitive String Analysis doing it the academic way😉. The result looks very promising, but its worthless to share any results/numbers without sharing the tool. It is still under development and a release date is unknown, but already in its current state it is way better than RIPS 0.5. In the end, full OOP support is planned. Any updates will be released here or via twitter.

The project continues … =)

Secuinside CTF writeup SQLgeek

June 12, 2012

Last weekend we participated at secuinside ctf. Mainly there were 7 binary and 7 web challenges besides a few other. All web challenges were really fun and according to the stats SQLgeek was one of the hardest web challenges. For all other web challenges there are already writeups, so here is one for sqlgeek. The source code of the PHP application was given and the challenge required 3 tasks. PHP’s magic_quotes_gpc was enabled.

1. SQL Injection

First I looked at the given source code without playing with the complicated application. Line 409 and following was eye-catching because some SQL filtering was going on.

	if(eregi("from|union|select|\(|\)| |\*|/|\t|into",$_GET[view])) 
		exit("Access Denied");
		exit("Access Denied");

	$q=mysql_fetch_array(mysql_query("select * from challenge5 
	where ip='$_GET[view]' and (str+dex+lnt+luc)='$_GET[stat]'"));
	echo ("</td><td>STR : $q[str]<br>DEX : $q[dex]<br>INT : $q[lnt]<br>LUCK : $q[luc]</td></tr>");

Even more interesting was line 411, where the input GET parameter view was converted to a korean charset before embedding it into the SQL query in line 418. This leads to a SQL injection. Chris shiflett, kuza55 and others published a bypass of the escaping in MySQL several years ago abusing uncommon charsets.

Summarized, if you supply the character sequence %bf%27 it will be escaped (due to the PHP setting magic_quotes_gpc=on) to %bf%5c%27 (%bf\’) and by converting this to the charset euc-kr the valid multibyte %bf%5c in this charset will be converted to one korean symbol leaving the trailing single quote %27 unescaped.

Since the view parameter was filtered for SQL keywords in line 412 it was a good idea to use the other GET parameter stat, that was not filtered. Instead injecting a single quote to break the ip column value in the WHERE clause I extended the value by supplying a backslash with the same trick explained above:


Now internally the PHP application escaped the backslash (%5C) in %bf%5C to %bf%5C%5C and after the call of mb_convert_encoding it left a korean character and an unescaped backslash that got injected to the SQL query:

where ip='?\' and (str+dex+lnt+luc)='$_GET[stat]'"));

My injected backslash escaped the next quote and extended the ip value until the next quote. Hence I could start with my own SQL syntax in the stat parameter:


Interestingly the MySQL user was root. So it was very likely to have the FILE privilege to read files:


Indeed /etc/passwd (here hex encoded to avoid quotes) could be read. At the end of this file a new hint was given:


2. Local File Inclusion

If I recall correctly the given source code of ReADDDDDDD______MEEEEEEEEEEEEE.php was like the following:


if(eregi('[0-9]', $_SESSION['PHPSESSID']))
if(eregi('/|\.', $_SESSION['PHPSESSID']))


Now first of all the same session is shared between the index.php and the ReADDDDDDD______MEEEEEEEEEEEEE.php. PHP sessions are stored in session files in a path that is configured with the session.save_path setting, likely the path that is prefixed in line 9. The name of the file consists of a prefix (normally sess_) and a value (normally md5) that is submitted by the cookie parameter PHPSESSID. In this file, the values of the global $_SESSION array are stored serialized. By altering the cookie one can create arbitrary session files (within a alphanumerical charset). However, this does not set the $_SESSION array key PHPSESSID to the same value.
Having a look again at the source code of the main application index.php I found the following lines right at the top:

@session_start(); include "conn.php";

The extract function that is called in line 3 simulates the dangerous register_globals PHP setting allowing to register global variables through input parameters. We can abuse this to set our own $_SESSION key PHPSESSID with the following GET request:

Cookie: PHPSESSID=reiners

Now the local file /var/php/tmp/sess_reiners is created (due to our cookie) and the following value (registered through extract) is stored:


If we visit ReADDDDDDD______MEEEEEEEEEEEEE.php with the same cookie again we now have a local file inclusion of our session file /var/php/tmp/sess_reiners in line 9 bypassing the the filter for numerical characters in line 4. To execute arbitrary PHP code we simply add another $_SESSION key value that contains our PHP code which will be stored in our session file:

Cookie: PHPSESSID=reiners

This PHP code will list all files in the current directory. I encoded the * because magic_quotes_gpc would escape any quotes and mess up our PHP code stored in the session file. Switching back to ReADDDDDDD______MEEEEEEEEEEEEE.php with the same cookie our session file gets included and executes our PHP code which printed:

Array ( 
	[2] => conn.php 
	[3] => images 
	[4] => index.php 
	[5] => index.phps 
	[6] => passwordddddddddddddddd.php 
	[7] => passwordddddddddddddddd.phps 
	[8] => readme 

3. Race condition

Another PHP file was revealed and the source code was given in passwordddddddddddddddd.phps:

system("echo '????' > readme/ppppaassssswordddd.txt");
<h1><a href=passwordddddddddddddddd.phps>source</a></h1>
system("rm -f readme/ppppaassssswordddd.txt");

Finally we can see that the flag is in line 2 (in the source file replaced with ????). So first I simply tried to read the original passwordddddddddddddddd.php file that must contain the real flag. But this would have been to easy😉 The readme/ppppaassssswordddd.txt also did not already exist.

So I had to solve the race condition. Here I have just a bit of a second to fetch the ppppaassssswordddd.txt with the flag that is created in line 2 before it gets deleted in line 6 again. Lets check if we can use this tiny time window. I injected the following PHP code in my session file as described in stage 2:


It simply loops endless until the variable $a is successfully filled with the file content of the readme/ppppaassssswordddd.txt file (file name encoded again because magic_quotes_gpc avoided quotes to form strings). Then I visited the script ReADDDDDDD______MEEEEEEEEEEEEE.php with my cookie again that now executed my PHP code and was looping endless. Then I visited the passwordddddddddddddddd.php script that would create the wanted readme/ppppaassssswordddd.txt file and immediatly delete it. To my surprise only one visit was needed so that the hanging ReADDDDDDD______MEEEEEEEEEEEEE.php stopped and finally printed the flag:


A very nice challenge with several steps, thank you to the author!
If you have solved the binaries I would love to see some writeups about them🙂


BECHED noticed in the comments that you could also do a HTTP HEAD request to the passwordddddddddddddddd.php script which will parse the PHP script only until the first output, thus not deleting the flag file. You can find more details about this behaviour here.

Multiple vulnerabilities in Apache Struts2 and property oriented programming with Java

January 4, 2012

This post was voted as 2nd best in the Top 10 Web Hacking Techniques of 2011 poll.


Last month I found a weird behaviour in a Java application during a blackbox pentest. The value of a parameter id was reflected to the HTTP response and I was testing for a potential SQLi vulnerability with the following requests (urldecoded) and responses:

request response
?id=abc abc
?id=abc’+’def abcdef

Ok that looked promising. SQLi here we go:

request response
?id=abc’+(select 1)+’def
?id=abc’+(select 1 from dual)+’def

Hmm, comments and subselect does not work? Maybe table name missing in MS Access? Defaults did not work. What comment types are available?

request response
?id=abc’– –

No luck, so I started from the beginning:

request response
?id=abc’+’def abcdef
?id=abc’+1+’def abc1def
?id=abc’+(1)+’def abc1def
?id=abc’+a+’def abcnulldef

Wooty? That was really interesting. No DBMS would return null for an unknown column. Obviously a uninitialized variable was parsed here. I even could access another given parameter:

request response
?id=abc’+name+’def&name=foo abcfoodef

This was a Java app so I tried some more stuff and this one worked to my suprise:

request response
?id=abc’+(new java.lang.String(“foo”))+’def abcfoodef

Remote Java code execution? This is not even possible without really dirty tricks (compilation on the fly) I thought. A few hours later I was investigating the Java source code and saw that the application was using Apache Struts

Apache Struts2, XWork and OGNL

Apache Struts2 is a web framework for creating Java web applications. It is using the OpenSymphony XWork and OGNL libraries. By default, XWork’s ParametersInterceptor treats parameter names provided to actions as OGNL expressions. In example the parametername within the request to HelloWorld.action?parametername=1 is evaluated as OGNL expression.
A OGNL (Object Graph Navigation Language) expression is a limited language similar to Java that is tokenized and parsed by the OGNL parser which invokes appropiate Java methods. This allows e.g. convenient access to properties that have a getter/setter method implemented. By providing a parameter like the OGNL parser will call the appropiate setter getProduct().setId(1) in the current action context. OGNL is also able to call abritrary methods, constructors and access context variables.

Apache Struts2 vulnerabilities in the past

To prevent attackers calling arbitrary Java methods within parameters the flag xwork.MethodAccessor.denyMethodExecution is set to true and the SecurityMemberAccess field allowStaticMethodAccess is set to false by default.
Before Struts it was possible to bypass these security flags and execute arbitrary commands within the parameter name. You can find all the details for the Pwnie award winning vulnerability here. Summarized, it was possible to access and change the security flags leaving the attacker with all the power that OGNL comes with. The fix in Struts was to apply a tightened character whitelist to XWork’s ParametersInterceptor, that prevents injecting the hashtag # and the backslash \ (for encoding the hashtag) and therefore prevents the access to the security flags.

acceptedParamNames = "[a-zA-Z0-9\\.\\]\\[\\(\\)_'\\s]+";

The introduced remote code execution worked because it occured during an exception that is triggered when Struts tries to set a property of type Integer or Long with a value of type String. Then the value was evaluated as OGNL expression again – maybe to force an attempt to retrieve a correct data type after evaluation. Since only the parameter names are limited by a character whitelist, arbitrary OGNL and thus arbitrary Java code could be executed.
Unfortunetly for me, the bug had been already reported two month earlier and was fixed (almost silently) in Struts You can find a list of all security bulletings for Struts here. Reason enough to have another look.

New Apache Struts2 vulnerabilities

The first obvious step was to look for code where OGNL expressions supplied by the user are evaluated without the character whitelist applied. This happens in the CookieInterceptor (in all versions below leading to remote code execution when Struts is configured to handle cookies.

The next step was to look if the character whitelist applied to the parameter names is strong enough and what can be done with the available characters. Within parameters everything is handled as getter and setter. However there are two ways to inject own OGNL expressions. The first is to use dynamic function names that are evaluated before execution like in (‘ognl’)(x)=1 or you can use list indexes that are evaluated before used as in x[ognl]=1.
However you can not call arbitrary methods like x[@java.lang.System@exec(‘calc’)]=1 because the security flag for allowStaticMethodAccess is disabled and the character @ (symbolizing static method access in OGNL) is not whitelisted. You can only access setters with only one parameter (the comma , is also not whitelisted) by providing name=foo or x[name(‘foo’)]=1 that will both call the setter setName(‘foo’).

Then we found out you can also call constructors with one parameter with x[new java.lang.String(‘foo’)]=1. This leads to a arbitrary file overwrite vulnerability when calling the FileWriter constructor x[new‘test.txt’)]=1. To inject the forbidden slash / character into the filename one can use a existent property of type String, in example x[new]=1&message=C:/test.txt. FileWriter will automatically create an empty file or overwrite an existing one.

A detailed description of all vulnerabilities with example code and PoC can be found in our advisory.

Property oriented programming with Java

Sorry for the buzzword😉 But maybe you can already imagine what the idea is. We can call arbitrary constructors and we can call setters. The next step is to look for classes that have malicious constructors (with only one parameter) or malicious setters (with only one parameter) or maybe even both. We can create arbitrary files by calling new‘test.txt’) but we cannot call‘test.txt’).write(‘data’) because denyMethodExecution is enabled and OGNL would try to call the setter setWrite(‘data’) on the FileWriter object. However if we find a class that opens a file within its constructor and writes data within a setter we could turn the arbitrary file overwrite vulnerability into a file upload vulnerability.

So I downloaded lots of Apache Commons libraries and wrote some regexes to find interesting gadgets. Useful gadgets would be classes with public constructors having only one parameter:


and having at least one setter with only one parameter:


In Struts, XWork, OGNL and 9 additional Apache Commons libraries 239 classes with a public constructor and a total of 669 setters could be found.

Example 1

To my suprise I found exactly what I was looking for in the class PrettyPrintWriter shipped with Struts itself:

package org.apache.struts2.interceptor.debugging;

public class PrettyPrintWriter {
    // constructors with 3, 2 and 1 parameter
    public PrettyPrintWriter(Writer writer, char[] lineIndenter, String newLine) {
        this.writer = new PrintWriter(writer);
        this.lineIndenter = lineIndenter;
        this.newLine = newLine;

    public PrettyPrintWriter(Writer writer, char[] lineIndenter) {
        this(writer, lineIndenter, "\n");

    public PrettyPrintWriter(Writer writer, String lineIndenter, String newLine) {
        this(writer, lineIndenter.toCharArray(), newLine);

    public PrettyPrintWriter(Writer writer, String lineIndenter) {
        this(writer, lineIndenter.toCharArray());

    // constructor with only one parameter that accepts our FileWriter
    public PrettyPrintWriter(Writer writer) {
        this(writer, new char[]{' ', ' '});

    // setter that will call write() on our FileWriter()
    public void setValue(String text) {
        readyForNewLine = false;
        tagIsEmpty = false;

        writeText(writer, text);

   protected void writeText(PrintWriter writer, String text) {

    // write text to writer object
    private void writeText(String text) {
        int length = text.length();
        for (int i = 0; i < length; i++) {
            char c = text.charAt(i);
            switch (c) {
                case '\0':

Perfect. We can create a new PrettyPrintWriter with the public constructor:

x[new org.apache.struts2.interceptor.debugging.PrettyPrintWriter()]

We use the constructor in line 25 that accepts only one parameter (remember that the comma is not whitelisted) of type Writer (FileWriter is a subclass of Writer):

x[new org.apache.struts2.interceptor.debugging.PrettyPrintWriter(new‘test.txt’))]=1

This will save our FileWriter object to this.writer (line 7). Now we call the method value on our PrettyPrintWriter object and OGNL will try to call the setter setValue which indeed exists (line 30):

x[new org.apache.struts2.interceptor.debugging.PrettyPrintWriter(new‘test.txt’)).value(‘data’)]=1

The call of setValue will in the end call writeText that will call a write (line 53) with our data to our FileWriter object. Then we could write arbitrary data to arbitrary files, in example uploading a JSP shell.

However that did not work. I thought the problem was that the file was never flushed or closed so I added another trick:

foobar=AAAAAAAA…&x[new org.apache.struts2.interceptor.debugging.PrettyPrintWriter(new‘test026.txt’))).value(foobar)]=1

The FileWriter is now wrapped in a BufferedWriter (a direct subclass of Writer). The documentation says that the buffer will be flushed automatically after 8.192 characters. So I tried sending 9.000 characters via HTTP POST to automatically flush the buffer but in the end it still did not work. Later I found out that OGNL did not accept setValue as a valid setter because the property value does not exist in PrettyPrintWriter.

Example 2

There is tons of abusable code within OGNL to execute arbitrary code, you just have to find the right set of public constructors and setters. In example Struts class ContextBean:

package org.apache.struts2.components;

public abstract class ContextBean extends Component {
    protected String var;
    public ContextBean(ValueStack stack) {

    public void setVar(String var) {
        if (var != null) {
            this.var = findString(var);

If you can create your own ValueStack object (required in the constructor in line 6 and for OGNL evaluation) you can call the setter setVar (line 10) which is a real setter because the property var exists (line 4). The setter setVar will then call findString (line 12) that in the end will execute a OGNL expression, which can be provided by another parameter value (which is not filtered):

x[new org.apache.struts2.components.ContextBean(new com.opensymphony.xwork2.util.ValueStack()).var(foobar)]=1
&foobar=OGNL expression

The problem in this example is to create a ValueStack with a constructor that has only one parameter to avoid the filtered comma. The class com.opensymphony.xwork2.util.ValueStack itself does not provide such a constructor, however their might be other classes with reduced constructors like in the first example.

You get the idea of “property oriented programming”😉 If you find anything cool please let me know. However note that all new vulnerabilities and the presented techniques are prevented in the new Struts because whitespaces are not whitelisted anymore and you cannot access constructors anymore.

All Struts users should update to Struts

Project RIPS v0.50 – Status

December 31, 2011

I just released a new version of RIPS, my static analysis tool for vulnerabilities in PHP applications. You can find it at or A lot of things have changed and got improved but still a lot of things have to be done. Anyway, the new version is a huge step towards scanning large PHP projects.

Whats new

A major change is that RIPS now parses PHP code by instructions and not by lines anymore. This is much much more effective and accurate. Parsing code line by line worked out well for the most projects but also introduced a lot of bugs that are now fixed. RIPS is now even able to parse obfuscated PHP code and PHP backdoors.
Also I put a lot of work into the handling of arrays. In detail: [indexes] behind a variable are now removed and added to the variable token seperatly which allows much more accurate semantic parsing of connected tokens. The index value can now be reconstructed recursively and compared to other index values.
Finally RIPS is able to scan large open source projects (non-OOP). A new feature showing the current scan status and the current file that is scanned as well as a approximated timeleft supports this.
A new feature called leakscan is added that is able to detect if the output of a sensitive sink is returned to the user. In example this helps to detect where the result of your SQL Injection is printed or embedded to a header or if you have to use blind SQL Injection techniques.

Whats coming

A new release will ship a lot more documentation what RIPS has actually found and why this is a vulnerability. By now RIPS helps to understand the vulnerability type but a lot of vulnerabilities are very special so that a description for every single sensitive sink makes sense.
The next big step is to implement a initial preparsing phase where functions and their properties are indexed. After this phase all function calls can be interpreted correctly. By now, RIPS still scans top down and misses functions that are called before they are actually declared in the code. With this new structure several bugs regarding securing and quote analysis can be fixed. Then the support of object oriented programming (OOP) code can be added. Also the graphs have to be improved a lot.

Again, if you have any feedback, feature requests, false positives/negatives or code that will make RIPS struggle/hang please contact me.

Happy new year everyone !!!🙂 CTF 2011 challenge writeup – Secret Space Code

September 27, 2011

Secret Space Code (SSC) was another web challenge I prepared for the 2011 conference CTF. Because we experienced that web challenges are one of the most solved challenge categories during the last CTFs we participated and organized we decided to provide some tough ones.
SSC was about a client-side vulnerability in IE8 that has been patched in December 2010 without any big attention. However I felt this was a cool vulnerability and worth a 500 points challenge. The challenge text was:

The Secret Space Code (SSC) database holds a list of all space shuttle captains and their missile launch codes. You have stolen the X-wing Fighter “Incom T-65” from captain Cardboard and you need the missile launch codes for a crazy joyride. You have heard that the SSC admin (twitter: @secretspacecode) is from redmoon where they only use unpatched Internet Explorer 8 …

hint: Client-side challenges are error-prone. Practice your attack locally before sending a link to the SSC admin via private message.

After we got some metasploit tainted links we added the hint that “client-side” was referred to vulnerabilities like CSRF and XSS and not to client-side stack smashing😉 Otherwise the challenge would not have been filed under the category web.
When visiting the challenge website there was only a password prompt. The first and easy task was – as in many other challenges – to detect the source code file index.phps:

header('Server: Secret Space Codes');
header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8');
header('X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block');
	<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"/>
	<title>Secret Space Codes - Database</title>

<div id="main">
<h1>Secret Space Codes Database</h1>
require 'config.php';

	if($_GET['pass'] === $password)
		$_SESSION['logged'] = true;
	} else
		$_SESSION['logged'] = false;
		echo '<p>Wrong password, get lost in space!</p>',"\n";

if(isset($_SESSION['logged']) && $_SESSION['logged'] === true)
	$conn = mysql_connect($Host, $User, $Password) 
		or die("Error: Can not connect to database. Challenge broken");

	mysql_select_db($Database, $conn) 
		or die("Error: Can not select database. Challenge broken");
	$where = '';
	echo '<form action="">',"\n",
	'<tr>',"\n",'<td><input type="text" name="captain" value="';
		echo htmlentities($_GET['captain'], ENT_QUOTES, 'utf-8');
		$captain = str_replace('all', '%', $_GET['captain']);
		$captain = mysql_real_escape_string($captain, $conn);
		$where.= "WHERE captain like '%$captain%' ";
	} else
		echo 'all';
	echo '" /></td>',"\n",'<td><select name="o">';
	if(isset($_GET['o']) && preg_match('/^(ASC|DESC)$/im', $_GET['o']))
		if(strtolower($_GET['o']) === 'asc')
			echo '<option selected>asc</option>',
		else if(strtolower($_GET['o']) === 'desc')
			echo '<option>asc</option>',
			'<option selected>desc</option>';	
			$where.= "ORDER BY captain ".$_GET['o'];
	} else
		echo '<option>asc</option>',
	echo '</select></td>',"\n",
	'<td><input type="submit" value="search" /></td>',"\n",
	$result = mysql_query("SELECT captain,code FROM captains $where", $conn);
	echo '<p>Result for captain '.htmlentities($_GET['captain'], ENT_QUOTES, 'utf-8');
		echo ' ('.htmlentities($_GET['o'], ENT_QUOTES, 'utf-8').'ending)';
	echo '</p>',"\n",
	if(!mysql_error() && mysql_num_rows($result) > 0)
		for($i=0; $i<mysql_num_rows($result); $i++)
			if(!($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)))
				die("Error. Challenge broken.");
			$captain = htmlentities($row['captain'], ENT_QUOTES, 'utf-8');
			$code = htmlentities($row['code'], ENT_QUOTES, 'utf-8');
			echo "<tr><td>$captain</td><td>$code</td></tr>\n";
	} else
		echo '<tr><td colspan="2">No codes found.</td></tr>',"\n";
	echo '</table>',"\n";

} else
	echo '<form action="" method="GET">',"\n",'<table>',"\n",
	'<tr><th colspan="2">Login</th></tr>',"\n",
	'<tr><td>password:</td><td><input type="password" name="pass" value="" /></td></tr>',"\n",
	'<tr><td colspan="2" align="right"><input type="submit" value="login" /></td></tr>',"\n",


The source code shows that after providing the right password the admin is logged in by session and gets a list of all captains and their codes. He also has the option to search for a specific captain and to order the list by GET parameter o ascending or descending. However there is no SQLi or XSS vulnerability. Everything is escaped and encoded correctly. The password was a 32 character long string and could not be guessed or bruteforced.
Anyway an attacker could steal the secrets knowing that his victim runs IE8. A very cool cross-domain leakage was published by scarybeast in September 2010 that could be used like the following to steal the missile launch codes from all captains:

  1. We reflect the following CSS via the GET parameter o:

    That is possible because we only need braces that are not encoded by htmlspecialchars() and similar functions. Note that this means that every webapp is vulnerable to this attack as long as braces are not explicitly encoded.

  2. We load the webpage with our reflectively injected CSS as CSS resource:
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{}body{font-family:{" />

    That is possible due to the lax IE8 CSS parsing. The first two braces make sure that every HTML content before our CSS is treated as (broken) CSS. Then our CSS starts where we define everything that follows in the HTML output as the body font-family. Because the IE8 parser will not find an ending brace it will include everything to the font-family until the end of file is reached.

  3. Now we have loaded the remote website with the whole content defined as font-family we simply access the currently computed font-family name and get the password protected content, when our victim is logged in and visits our prepared HTML webpage:
    	<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{}body{font-family:{" />
    function getStyle() {
    	var html = document.body.currentStyle.fontFamily;
    window.setTimeout(getStyle, 2000);

    We also set a timeout in case loading the remote site as CSS resource takes some time.

The code for captain Cardboard was F15-F29-F32-F65-F17-F22. For more information about this attack read scarybeasts blogpost or this paper. Note that this can only be reproduced with an unpatched IE8. Alternatively you can add the prepared HTML page to your trusted zone which will bypass the patch.
As almost expected nobody solved this challenge most likely because the attack has not got much attention. However knowing that it is IE8 specific one could have looked at the recent IE8 patches. Also SSC is backwards for CSS and could have got you in the right direction (scarybeasts blogpost is the second hit when googling “IE8 css security”). Thanks to .mario for bringing this vuln to my attention. CTF 2011 challenge writeup – AALabs (Part 1)

September 26, 2011

As last year our CTF team FluxFingers organized the conference CTF. Again the CTF was open to participants all over the world.

As last year I prepared some web challenges designed in this years topic “space”. The challenge AALabs was about a website of a Asteroid Analysis Laboratory where you could create an account and upload asteroid meta data files for analysis. As a result a graph was shown to the user that summerized the amount of different material detected in that asteroid.

The challenge text was:

You have stolen the administrators password hashes from AALabs – a profitable technology center in outer space. However you were not able to crack them yet. Can you find out the salt?

Similar to last years web challenge you had to use different techniques to get the salt. At first you had to create an account with a unique username, your password and several other info about yourself. The AALabs webapp then internally created the new directory /home/files/username/ to later upload your files to a unique directory. Also the webapp added the user to the database for authentication and file authorization.
After registration you could login and upload your asteroid meta files. Once successfully uploaded, your file was listed in the analysis table with the option to delete the file and to create an analysis report.

Here one could find a SQL injection. By uploading a file named foobar the following SQL error was triggered when creating a report:

Query failed: UPDATE metafiles SET reportfile = ‘/home/files/username/’ WHERE id = 7 AND userid = 3

Obviously the file name was escaped correctly when INSERTed into the table of uploaded files. However when creating a report and saving the new report file name (that includes the original file name) the name was not escaped correctly and the error was triggered during the UPDATE statement.
The trick here was to closely look at this error message before trying to exploit the SQL injection. It reveals the behavior that has been described above: the webapp operates with a directory that includes your username. Since it generates your report files in /home/files/username/ with your uploaded file name and the appended .report extension, it is very likely that it also uploads your file to the same directory /home/files/username/. That is safe at the first glance because the directory /home/files/ can not be accessed via webserver and many teams continued to investigate the SQL injection. However the SQL injection itself was a dead end because important characters like parenthesis were filtered. The SQL injection was actually a Information Leakage.
The trick was to register a new account with a Path Traversal in your username such as ../../var/www/Reiners. Doing so forces the webapp to upload your files into the webdirectory /var/www/ and your subdirectory Reiners/. After that you could simply upload your PHP shell to the webdirectory and access it by browser. Since the safe_mode was enabled (we will come back to that later in part 2) you had to use file functions for further investigation, for example:

// Listing all files in a directory:
// read the configuration file that includes the salt:
echo file_get_contents('/var/www/config.php');

The salt and the solution for this first part of the challenge was:

I omitted the task to use the salt and a given hash to crack the password because I felt this was boring, however it would have added just another technique required to get to the goal. So far for the first task that was worth 200 points. A second task was waiting for the teams that was worth another 300 points and that required to exploit PHP itself and bypass the safe_mode:

Now that you gained access to AALabs it is time to do some further digging to get into their system. However they seem to have a pretty safe configuration running on their webserver. Can you get around it and read the Flag?

A writeup will follow for this task. Unfortunetely only one team (props to bobsleigh) managed to solve the first task. I don’t think that the first task was too hard, however there were two distractions. First of all the SQL error was mostly pointing the teams to a SQL injection filter evasion challenge rather than a simple information leakage. Secondly the path traversal had to exactly point to the webdirectory because the www-data user had only write access to /home/files/ and to /var/www/. I can imagine that some teams tried to traverse only one directory up to see if path traversal is possible but stopped trying after not successfully writing to /home/.
Anyway I hope some teams enjoyed the challenge🙂

Project RIPS – Status

June 4, 2011

During the past month I spend a lot of time improving RIPS – my static analysis tool for PHP vulnerabilities. You can download the new version 0.40 here. In this post I will give a short project status report.

Whats new

There has been a couple of bugfixes and improving especially regarding file inclusions which are vital for correct analysis. Also RIPS now tries to analyse SQL queries on quotes before a decision on correct securing is made. However this feature is still not 100% working correctly in all cases.

// safe
$name = mysql_real_escape_string($_GET['name']);
mysql_query("SELECT * FROM users WHERE name = '$name'");

// vulnerable
$id = mysql_real_escape_string($_GET['id']);
mysql_query("SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = $id");

The main new visible features are graphs. Besides the list of all scanned files RIPS now gives a nice overview on how files are connected to eachother, what files accept sources (userinput) and what files have sensitive sinks or vulnerabilities. It also splits the scanned files in main files (blue) and included files (red) so that entry points can be spotted easily.

RIPS file graph

Also all function calls are visible in a connected graph. Red lines are highlighting the code flow of each vulnerability. With these features it is very easy to spot in which file a vulnerability exists and which functions have to be called to reach the sensitive sink before you actually look at the code.

RIPS function graph

Another important feature is that code snippets that belong to the same vulnerability are now grouped and titled with the vulnerability category. In earlier versions they were unconnected and one had to jump between several snippets. With this it is now possible to look at specific vulnerability categories and to hide unimportant ones. This can be done by clicking on the categories name in the statistics window that also has been improved with a pie chart (HTML5 for the win ;)).

RIPS stats

Also a new vulnerability type “Unserialize / POP” has been added that allows you to search for unserialize() sinks and interesting POP gadget functions (more info here). For more changes have a look at the changelog.

Whats missing

The main drawback of RIPS is still the missing support of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP). That means that almost all large code projects can not be scanned sufficiently and vulnerabilities will not be detected correctly. RIPS also still has problems with large non-OOP projects with complicated include structures. The new version improves the include strategie a lot, however if the filename is fetched from a database or build over several userdefined functions it is hard to reconstruct a string with static analysis. Also, a big block on my todo-list includes several bugs with the detection of proper and inproper securing that is also hard to detect with static analysis. So RIPS 0.40 remains being a good tool for small to bigger non-OOP apps but fails if you seriously want to scan WordPress or phpBB.

Whats coming

Scanning large OOP apps is still the main goal. After fixing currently known bugs (which are decreasing but finally increasing again every day ;)) it will be time for implementing basic OOP features. At the same time a complete rewrite is planned to improve development and contain new bugs. Also some basic behavior of RIPS needs to be changed to detect vulnerabilities more correctly. This includes the line-by-line reading which should be replaced by codeblocks and the handling of different data types, especially arrays. There has been some interests lately for a joint development so I am looking forward to how RIPS will evolve.

If you are aware of a bug in the new version or have a feature request please leave a comment or issue a request at sourceforge.