Vulnerabilities / Threats
11/2/2012
02:36 PM
50%
50%

Apache Server Setting Mistakes Can Aid Hackers

Numerous large companies that use free Apache server software leave internal status pages visible, which can help hackers exploit networks.

Who Is Hacking U.S. Banks? 8 Facts
Who Is Hacking U.S. Banks? 8 Facts
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Apache server administrators: Have you hidden your status pages?

According to a study of 10 million websites released last week, more than 2,000 sites -- including big-name businesses such as Cisco, Ford and Staples -- have left the status pages for their Apache servers visible, which could give attackers information that would help them penetrate corporate networks.

That research comes via Daniel Cid, CTO of Sucuri, who published a list of 2,072 websites that Sucuri Malware Labs identified as having exposed Apache status pages.

According to Apache documentation, the Apache mod_status module "allows a server administrator to find out how well their server is performing," via an HTML page that delivers up-to-date server statistics. "It is basically an HTML page that displays the number of [processes] working, status of each request, IP addresses that are visiting the site, pages that are being queried and things like that. All good," said Cid in a related blog post.

"However, this feature can also have security implications if you leave it wide open to the world. Anyone would be able to see who is visiting the site, the URLs and sometimes even find hidden -- obscure -- admin panels or files that should not be visible to the outside," he said. "That can help attackers easily find more information about these environments and use them for more complex attacks."

[ Shore up your defenses and trick attackers into revealing their identities. See 9 Facts: Play Offense Against Security Breaches. ]

Thankfully, there's a simple fix, said Cid: "For server admins, please disable server-status or restrict it to only a set of IP addresses that really need to use it."

By Monday, seven of 13 big-name sites highlighted by Cid in his blog post -- including CloudFlare, Disney and TweetDeck -- had hidden their status pages in response, while Apache.com, Cisco.com, Ford.com, MetCafe, Staples and Yellow Pages had not.

Security experts recommend that all Apache administrators verify that their installations aren't exposing server status information. "I was pretty sure the sites I run for myself and my customers were OK, but since paranoia is a good trait of a security-conscious techie, I double checked," said developer Steve Madsen in a blog post. "Imagine my surprise when I found that one of my sites did the very same thing, as did one of my customer's."

What was the issue? He traced the problem to how the virtual hosts were configured, but said that Apache may also be mishandling one of the Debian Linux variables involved. "Is this problem actually a security bug in Apache? If so, it is much more serious than the exposure of mod_status information," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-9605
Published: 2015-09-04
WebUpgrade in Netsweeper before 3.1.10, 4.0.x before 4.0.9, and 4.1.x before 4.1.2 allows remote attackers to bypass authentication and create a system backup tarball, restart the server, or stop the filters on the server via a ' (single quote) character in the login and password parameters to webup...

CVE-2015-5612
Published: 2015-09-04
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in October CMS build 271 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the caption tag of a profile image.

CVE-2015-5688
Published: 2015-09-04
Directory traversal vulnerability in lib/app/index.js in Geddy before 13.0.8 for Node.js allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files via a ..%2f (dot dot encoded slash) in the PATH_INFO to the default URI.

CVE-2015-6807
Published: 2015-09-04
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Mass Contact module 6.x-1.x before 6.x-1.6 and 7.x-1.x before 7.x-1.1 for Drupal allows remote authenticated users with the "administer mass contact" permission to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a category label.

CVE-2015-6808
Published: 2015-09-04
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Spotlight module 7.x-1.x before 7.x-1.5 for Drupal allows remote authenticated users with certain permissions to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a node title.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Another Black Hat is in the books and Dark Reading was there. Join the editors as they share their top stories, biggest lessons, and best conversations from the premier security conference.