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CERT Coordination Center


Format string input validation error in wu-ftpd site_exec() function

Vulnerability Note VU#29823

Original Release Date: 2000-10-02 | Last Revised: 2001-02-19

Overview

A vulnerability involving an input validation error in the "site exec" command has recently been identified in the Washington University ftpd (wu-ftpd) software package. Sites running affected systems are advised to update their wu-ftpd software as soon as possible.

A similar but distinct vulnerability has also been identified that involves a missing format string in several setproctitle() calls. It affects a broader number of ftp daemons. Please see the vendor section of this document for specific information about the status of specific ftpd implementations and solutions.

Description

"Site exec" Vulnerability


A vulnerability has been identified in wu-ftpd and other ftp daemons based on the wu-ftpd source code. Wu-ftpd is a common package used to provide file transfer protocol (ftp) services. This vulnerability is being discussed as the wu-ftpd "site exec" or "lreply" vulnerability in various public forums. Incidents involving the exploitation of this vulnerability which enables remote users to gain root privileges have been reported to the CERT Coordination Center.

The problem is described in AUSCERT Advisory AA-2000.02, "wu-ftpd 'site exec' Vulnerability," which is available from


The wu-ftpd "site exec" vulnerability is the result of missing character-formatting argument in several function calls that implement the "site exec" command functionality. Normally if "site exec" is enabled, a user logged into an ftp server (including the 'ftp' or 'anonymous' user) may execute a restricted subset of quoted commands on the server itself. However, if a malicious user can pass character format strings consisting of carefully constructed *printf() conversion characters (%f, %p, %n, etc) while executing a "site exec" command, the ftp daemon may be tricked into executing arbitrary code as root.

The "site exec" vulnerability appears to have been in the wu-ftpd code since the original wu-ftpd 2.0 came out in 1993. Any vendors who have based their own ftpd distributions on this vulnerable code are also likely to be vulnerable.

The vulnerability appears to be exploitable if a local user account can be used for ftp login. Also, if the "site exec" command functionality is enabled, then anonymous ftp login allows sufficient access for an attack.

setproctitle() Vulnerability

A separate vulnerability involving a missing character-formatting argument in setproctitle(), a call which sets the string used to display process identifier information, is also present in wu-ftpd. Other ftpd implementations have been found to have vulnerable setproctitle() calls as well, including those from proftpd and OpenBSD.

The setproctitle() vulnerability appears to have been present in various ftpd implementations since at least BSD ftpd 5.51 (which predates wuarchive-ftpd 1.0). It has also been confirmed to be present in BSD ftpd 5.60 (the final BSD release). Any vendors who have based their own ftpd distributions on this vulnerable code are also likely to be vulnerable.

It should be noted that many operating systems do not support setproctitle() calls. However, other software engineering defects involving the same type of missing character-formatting argument may be present.

Intruder Activity

One possible indication you are being attacked with either of these vulnerabilities may be the appearance of syslog entries similar to the following:

    Jul  4 17:43:25 victim ftpd[3408]: USER ftp
    Jul  4 17:43:25 victim ftpd[3408]: PASS [malicious shellcode]
    Jul  4 17:43:26 victim ftpd[3408]: ANONYMOUS FTP LOGIN FROM
    attacker.example.com [10.29.23.19], [malicious shellcode]
    Jul  4 17:43:28 victim-site ftpd[3408]: SITE EXEC (lines: 0):
    %.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%
    .f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.
    f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f
    %.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%
    .f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.
    f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f
    %.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%.f%c%c%c%.f|%p
    Jul  4 17:43:28 victim ftpd[3408]: FTP session closed

Details and exploits for both the "site exec" and setproctitle() vulnerabilities have been posted in various public forums. Please see
The CERT/CC has received reports of both of these vulnerabilities being successfully exploited on the Internet. Please check our Current Activity page for updates regarding intruder activity involving these vulnerabilities.

Impact

By exploiting any of these input validation problems, local or remote users logged into the ftp daemon may be able execute arbitrary code as root. An anonymous ftp user may also be able to execute arbitrary code as root.

Solution

Upgrade your version of ftpd
Please see the vendors records in this vulnerability note for more information about the availability of updated ftpd packages specific for your system.

Apply a patch from your vendor
If you are running vulnerable ftpd implementations and cannot upgrade, you need to apply the appropriate vendor patches and recompile and/or reinstall the ftpd server software.

The vendor section of this document contains information provided by vendors. We will update the appendix as we receive more information. If you do not see your vendor's name, the CERT/CC did not hear from that vendor. Please contact your vendor directly.

Disable ftp services
If neither an upgrade nor a patch can be applied, the CERT/CC recommends disabling all vulnerable wu-ftpd and proftpd servers. While disabling "site exec" command functionality or anonymous ftp access minimizes exposure to the "site exec" vulnerability, neither is a complete solution and may not mitigate against the risks involved with exposure to the setproctitle() vulnerability.

Vendor Information

29823
Expand all

Conectiva

Updated:  October 11, 2000

Status

  Vulnerable

Vendor Statement

Please see:

Vendor Information

The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

Addendum

The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

Debian

Updated:  October 11, 2000

Status

  Vulnerable

Vendor Statement

Please see the following regarding the wu-ftpd "site exec" issue:

Copyright © 1997-2000 SPI

Vendor Information

The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

Addendum

The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

Hewlett Packard

Updated:  October 11, 2000

Status

  Vulnerable

Vendor Statement

HP is vulnerable. Please see:


    HPSBUX0007-117: Sec. Vulnerability in ftpd, **Rev.01** HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY SECURITY ADVISORY: #00117, 11 July '00, Last Revised: 12 July '00

An excerpt:
    PROBLEM: The ftp server (ftpd) on HP-UX allows users root access.
    PLATFORM: HP-UX release 11.00 - Both Problem #1 and #2 below; HP-UX release 10.20 - Problem #2, setproctitle(), only
    DAMAGE: Unauthorized root access.
    SOLUTION: Install temporary binary until an official patch is released.
    AVAILABILITY: The temporary binary is available now (see below).


    A. Background
      There are 2 problems with FTP Server (ftpd) on HP-UX.
    1. ftpd handling of the SITE EXEC command that allows remote users to gain root access. This is possible in the default configuration of ftpd on HP-UX 11.00 ONLY.
    2. ftpd does not properly format the parameters to the setproctitle() function, allowing users to gain root access. This problem applies to both 11.00 and 10.X.
    B. Fixing the problem
      All system administrators are encouraged to install our temporary binary until an official patch is released. The file can be retrieved to simply replace the original factory supplied binary.
    C. Recommended solutionNOTE: This advisory [HPSBUX0007-117] will be updated when patches become available.
    Copyright © 2000 Hewlett-Packard Company

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    NetBSD

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    Please see NetBSD Security Advisories NetBSD-SA2000-009 & NetBSD-SA2000-010:

    Copyright © 2000, The NetBSD Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    OpenBSD

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    The setproctitle bug is in OpenBSD. Please see:

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Washington University

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    The WU-FTPD Development Group's primary distribution site is mirrored world-wide. A list of mirrors is available from:

    If possible, please use a mirror to obtain patches or the latest version.

    Upgrade your version of wu-ftpd
    The latest release of wu-ftpd, version 2.6.1, has been released to address these and several other security issues:
    Apply a patch
    The wu-ftpd developers have published the following patch for wu-ftpd 2.6.0:

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    BSDI

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Not Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    Current versions of BSD/OS do not include any version of wu-ftpd. The BSDI ftpd is not vulnerable to the reported problems; it is not based on the wu-ftpd code.

    The version of ftpd in modern versions of BSD/OS is not vulnerable to the generic setproctitle() vulnerabilities.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    FreeBSD

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Not Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    The version of ftpd shipped with all versions of FreeBSD since 2.2.0 is not vulnerable to this problem. FreeBSD also ships with several optional third-party FTP servers in the Ports Collection, including wu-ftpd and proftpd. The wu-ftpd vulnerability was corrected on 2000/06/24 and is the subject of FreeBSD Security Advisory SA-00:29. At this time no patch has been released by the proftpd vendor and the version in FreeBSD ports is still vulnerable to this attack. FreeBSD makes no guarantee about the security of third-party software in the ports collection and users are advised that there may be security vulnerabilities in other FTP servers available there.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    An update to proftpd is now available.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Fujitsu

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Not Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    Fujitsu's UXP/V operating system is not vulnerable to any of the vulnerabilities discussed in [this] advisory.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Microsoft

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Not Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    The IIS FTP service is not is not affected by these issues.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Porcupine.org

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Not Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    [...] None of my software [ftpd from my logdaemon utilities] has either the "site exec" or "setproctitle" features enabled.

    Wietse Venema
    mailto:wietse@porcupine.org

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    SGI

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Not Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    IRIX ftpd is not vulnerable to the issues mentioned in this advisory. See ftp://sgigate.sgi.com/security/20000701-01-I for more information.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Sun

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Not Vulnerable

    Vendor Statement

    SISP FTPD is similar to wu-ftpd. SISP FTPD does not allow site exec nor does it use setproctitle(). Therefore, SISP FTPD does not appear to be vulnerable.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Caldera

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    Please see CSSA-2000-020.0 regarding the wu-ftpd issue and OpenLinux:

    Copyright © 2000 Caldera Systems, Inc.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Compaq Computer Corporation

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    At the time of writing this document, this reported problem is currently still under evaluation by engineering to determine the requirement of a solution if necessary. COMPAQ will provide an update to this advisory accordingly.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    MIT Kerberos Development Team

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    No statement is currently available from the vendor regarding this vulnerability.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    It seems that the MIT Kerberos ftpd is based on BSD ftpd revision 5.40, and has never contained any serious format string related bugs for some reason. It is possible that by defining an undocumented CPP macro SETPROCTITLE, calls to setproctitle() can be made, however, there is an internally declared setproctitle() function that does not take a format string as its argument, and is hence not vulnerable.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    MandrakeSoft

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    Please see the MANDRAKE 7.1 update section for wu-ftpd information at:

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    ProFTPD

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    Upgrade to ProFTPD 1.2.0:

    Please see the discussion concerning setproctitle() at

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    RedHat

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    Please see RHSA-2000-039-02 regarding the wu-ftpd issue:

    Copyright © 2000 Red Hat, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    Slackware

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    Please see the patches made available regarding the wu-ftpd issue, at:

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

    SuSE

    Updated:  October 11, 2000

    Status

      Unknown

    Vendor Statement

    Please see SuSE Security Announcement #53 regarding the wu-ftpd issue, at:

    Vendor Information

    The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.

    Addendum

    The CERT/CC has no additional comments at this time.

    If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.


    CVSS Metrics

    Group Score Vector
    Base N/A N/A
    Temporal N/A N/A
    Environmental N/A

    References

    Credit

    The CERT Coordination Center thanks Gregory Lundberg and Theo de Raadt for their help in developing this document.

    This document was written by Jeff S Havrilla.

    Other Information

    CVE IDs: CVE-2000-0573
    CERT Advisory: CA-2000-13
    Severity Metric: 87.72
    Date Public: 2000-06-23
    Date First Published: 2000-10-02
    Date Last Updated: 2001-02-19 22:04 UTC
    Document Revision: 7

    Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Cybersecurity and Communications.