Vulnerability Note VU#985347

iPlanet Web Server Enterprise Edition and Netscape Enterprise Server Web Publisher command exposes server to brute force attack

Original Release date: 08 Jan 2002 | Last revised: 08 Jan 2002


A vulnerability exists in iPlanet Web Server Enterprise Edition and Netscape Enterprise Server that allows an attacker to make repeated authentication attempts if a server is configured to use HTTP basic authentication. While the risk is not greater than any other brute force attack using HTTP basic authentication, this vulnerability may represent an unexpected avenue of attack.


ProCheckup has reported a vulnerability in iPlanet Web Server, Enterprise Edition and Netscape Enterprise Server running on Windows NT based operating systems. The iPlanet and NES servers provide a feature called Web Publisher. According to NES documentation:

Netscape Enterprise Server 4.0 clients can use Web Publisher to collaborate on projects by directly accessing, editing, and managing file on remote servers. Web Publisher provides sophisticated features for server clients, such as file management, editing and publishing, and access control.
The Web Publisher wp-force-auth command initiates an HTTP Basic Authentication dialog. An attacker may make repeated calls to wp-force-auth in an attempt to guess valid user credentials. Well-known user credentials, such as Administrator or Guest on Windows systems, or root or nobody on Unix/Linux systems, may be subjected to brute-force attacks. While the exposure created by this vulnerability is no greater than that of any other brute force attack, this vulnerability may represent an unexpected avenue of attack.


An unauthenticated remote attacker may make repeated attempts to guess valid user credentials.


Disable Web Publishing
iPlanet recommends disabling Web Publisher and Directory Indexing on external servers:

Another method for disabling Web Publisher is to use a Netscape Server Application Programming Interface (NSAPI) Server Application Functions (SAF):

Filter HTTP Traffic It may be possible to use an application layer filter to detect and block HTTP requests containing the ?wp-force-auth command.

Systems Affected (Learn More)

VendorStatusDate NotifiedDate Updated
iPlanetAffected22 Aug 200108 Jan 2002
NetscapeAffected22 Aug 200108 Jan 2002
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.

CVSS Metrics (Learn More)

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



The CERT Coordination Center thanks ProCheckup for information used in this document.

This document was written by Art Manion.

Other Information

  • CVE IDs: Unknown
  • Date Public: 08 Jan 2002
  • Date First Published: 08 Jan 2002
  • Date Last Updated: 08 Jan 2002
  • Severity Metric: 1.50
  • Document Revision: 18


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