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Re: FireWall-1 FTP Server Vulnerability
From: monti () USHOST COM (monti)
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 19:32:54 -0600

The patch described below does not sound as though it will 'fix the
problem'. I could be wrong, but... The enforcement of a newline at the end
of the packet might still open the possibility of exploitation through at
least one method that I can think of off the top of my head.

Possible Example:

An FTP server (with at least one writable directory) that allows use of
the FTP STAT command. The attacker uploads a file named something
along the lines of '227 Entering Passive Mode (xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,prt,prt)'.
The attacker then issues something like a 'stat -1 filename', and plays
with her MSS and listing techniques until a proper combination is found
and a malicious (and according to description, accepted) packet appears on
the wire back through Firewall-1 through the FTP control session.

The above has not been tested extensively (namely, not with Firewall-1). I
have seen different behavior from various FTP servers. Newer versions of
wu-ftpd seem to have already considered this possibility and add a '-'
between the '227' and 'Entering' as "227-Entering ...." these suspicious
looking files. Others may do this as well. It should be noted also that
the 'stat -1' command is only going to work on certain FTP server
implementations (most likely unix ones). The -1 is actually being fed to

(from a telnet to wu-2.4.2-VR17, many others will work)

213-status of -1:
227 Entering Passive Mode (xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,0,139)
213 End of Status
STAT --h
213-status of --h:
/bin/ls: option `--h' is ambiguous
Try `/bin/ls --help' for more information.
213 End of Status


I presume the '227-Entering' trick on wu-ftpd (and possibly others) would
break the above mentioned technique. This isn't of much comfort though,
since there are probably countless other ways that an attacker could make
the FTP server generate the malicious string and still get it by the new
'enforcement'. FTP implementations vary pretty widely in small details
like error strings and the like.

I dont really think the issue is with 'how' the PASV response and packet
appears on the wire, but with the Firewall's logic in creating a hole for
PASV ftp data connections. I think the firewall should probably be a bit
more strict about how it makes the decision to open the PASV hole and
follow rules like the following:

First watch for:
client -> ftp-server "PASV"

which triggers the firewall to look for this immediately afterwards:
client <- ftp-server "227 Entering Passive Mode (xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,prt,prt)

If any other statement is seen from client or server, before the presence
of the 227 port declaration, the attempt is ignored.

This might still be open to mis-use/tampering, but it would be harder at
least (particularly if implemented to enforce strict adherence). Also,
some ftp servers might not behave nicely with this... but many of those
are probably already broken with firewall-1 anyway?

Again, this is largely theoretical. I have not confirmed this to work in
the described attack against Firewall-1. If I get some free time, I'll
try it. But please consider this for what it's worth for the time-being!

Eric Monti
Network Security Analyst
Denmac Systems
ericm () denmac com
monti () ushost com

On Sat, 12 Feb 2000 Lars.Troen () MERKANTILDATA NO wrote:

-----Original Message-----
From: Check Point Support [mailto:cpsuppor () ts checkpoint com]
Sent: 12. februar 2000 06:01
To: fw-1-mailinglist () lists us checkpoint com
Subject: [FW1] Check Point News Announcement

News Announcement:

It has been brought to Check Point's attention that a possible
exists in the control of PASV (passive) FTP connections through
This was developed in a lab environment and requires a specific set of
conditions to have existed, in order to suceed. Check Point has no
of its being used against production environments.

Summary of vulnerability:
FireWall-1's parsing of the FTP control connection was manipulated via
such that a FTP server PASV port number, as processed by FireWall-1, was

associated with the port number of a service with a known security issue
this case, ToolTalk port vulnerability on a un-patched Solaris 2.6
This enabled the client to exploit the server's vulnerability (i.e., an
in.ftpd that returned client-controlled data in an error message and
a possibly unnecessary service: ToolTalk) to gain root access on the
machine. This vulnerability was reported to BugTrag on Wednesday,
9th by John MacDonald of DataProtect.

Minimizing the possible threat:
- Do not enable PASV FTP if not needed.
- Use the FTP Security Server or HTTP security server for PASV FTP
connections to internal FTP servers.
- Those running publicly accessible FTP servers should follow good host
security practices (e.g., not running additional, possibly unnecessary
vulnerable services, keeping up with OS and/or application patches).
- For those using stateful inspection of passive FTP, the following
has been supplied.

The patch consists of a new $FWDIR/lib/base.def file that includes a fix
the problem (the file is compatible with Firewall-1 4.0 SP-5, other
platforms will be released as soon as possible). The fix involves an
enforcement on the existence of the newline character at the end of each

packet on the FTP control connection, this will close off the described
vulnerability. It should be noted that this may cause connectivity
(i.e., blocked FTP connections) in the following scenarios:

1. If FTP control messages larger than the MTU (e.g., large PWD) are
2. If some FTP clients/servers does not put newline at the end of the
3. When passing FWZ encrypted traffic through an intermediate Firewall
The enforcement can be easily disabled by commenting the following line
the base.def file (or by restoring the original base.def file):

Thank you,
Check Point Software Technical Services

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