mark :: blog
There's a new Apache HTTP Server security issue out today, an off-by-one bug that affects the Rewrite module, mod_rewrite. We've not had many serious Apache bugs in some time, in fact the last one of note was four years ago, the Chunked Encoding Vulnerability.
This issue is technically interesting as the off-by-one only lets you write one pointer to the space immediately after a stack buffer. So the ability to exploit this issue is totally dependent on the stack layout for a particular compiled version of mod_rewrite. If the compiler used has added padding to the stack immediately after the buffer being overwritten, this issue can not be exploited, and Apache httpd will continue operating normally. Many older (up to a year or so ago) versions of gcc pad stack buffers on most architectures.
The Red Hat Security Response Team analysed Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 binaries for all architectures as shipped by Red Hat and determined that these versions cannot be exploited. We therefore do not plan on providing updates for this issue.
In contrast, our Fedora Core 4 and 5 builds are vulnerable as the compiler version used adds no stack padding. For these builds, the pointer being overwritten overwrites a saved register and, unfortunately, one that has possible security consequences. It's still quite unlikely we'll see a worm appear for this issue that affects Fedora though: for one thing, the vulnerability can only be exploited when mod_rewrite is enabled and a specific style of
RewriteRule is used. So it's likely to be different on every
vulnerable site (unless someone has some third party product that
relies on some vulnerable rewrite rules). Even then, you still need
to be able to defeat the Fedora Core randomization to be able to
reliably do anything interesting with this flaw.
So, as you can probably tell, I spent a few days this week analysing
assembler dumps of our Apache binaries on some architectures. It was
more fun than expected; mostly because I used to code full-time in
assembler, although that was over 15 years ago.
In the past I've posted timelines of when we found out about issues
and dealt with them in Apache; so for those who are interested:
20060721-23:29 Mark Dowd forwards details of issue to firstname.lastname@example.org
20060722-07:42 Initial response from Apache security team
20060722-08:14 Investigation, testing, and patches created
20060724-19:04 Negotiated release date with reporter
20060725-10:00 Notified NISCC and CERT to give vendors heads up
20060727-17:00 Fixes committed publically
20060727-23:30 Updates released to Apache site
20060828 Public announcement from Apache, McAfee, CERT, NISCC
Here is the patch against 2.0, the patch against 1.3 or 2.2 is almost identical.
Created: 28 Jul 2006
Tagged as: apache, fedora, metrics, red hat, security
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Hi! I'm Mark Cox. This blog gives my
thoughts and opinions on my security
work, open source, fedora, home automation,
and other topics.