Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

Apache Access Vulnerability Could Affect Thousands of Applications

A recently discovered issue with a common file access method could be a major new attack surface for malware authors.

Vulnerabilities in Apache functions have been at the root of significant breaches, including the one suffered by Equifax. Now new research indicates that another such vulnerability may be putting thousands of applications at risk.

Lawrence Cashdollar, a vulnerability researcher and member of Akamai's Security Incident Response Team, found an issue with the way that thousands of code projects are using Apache .htaccess, leaving them vulnerable to unauthorized access and a subsequent file upload attack in which auto-executing code is uploaded to an application.

The problem, Cashdollar said, is that .htaccess functionality was turned off by default beginning in Apache Version 2.3.9 – though for good reasons. "It turns out that it was a performance hit for the Apache server," he told Dark Reading, explaining that every time a directory was opened, a call to the files in .htaccess would result.

Even more serious, he said, were the security implications. "Users could use this .htaccess access to override security controls for the server itself or the server configuration itself," Cashdollar said. "So it was a security feature that could be misused."

A security vulnerability is born, Cashdollar said, when a developer looks at very old documentation and uses .htaccess for authentication instead of one of the methods now suggested by the Apache Foundation. "It's going to silently fail" when called, he said, returning no error message and allowing free access.

Cashdollar said he got a feeling for the scope of the vulnerability when he explored a software project by Blueimp called jQuery File Upload. It is a frequently used file upload widget that allows many file types to be uploaded to a website built with a number of different programming languages.

jQuery File Upload is popular. "The project in GitHub has 7,800 clones of it or forks," Cashdollar said. "So there are at least 7,800 derivatives of this vulnerable code out there." GitHub allowed him to see 1,000 of these forks, and he hand-checked dozens; all were vulnerable.

When the vulnerability was reported to Blueimp, the issue was confirmed and a patch applied to the main fork. Other forks remain vulnerable until a patch is applied or a different authentication method is used in the application.

In a GitHub project explaining CVE-2018-9206 (the designation now given the vulnerability), Cashdollar shows how an exploit could work. He also notes that exploits of this vulnerability have appeared in the wild — which isn not a secret to the hacking community.

Cashdollar's blog post explaining his research on this vulnerability outlines the research process and the vulnerability's implications. "Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately determine how many of the projects forked from jQuery File Upload are being properly maintained and applying changes as they happen in the master project," he wrote. "Also, there is no way to determine where the forked projects are being used in production environments, if they’re being used in such a way. Moreover, older versions of the project were also vulnerable to the file upload issue, going back to 2010."

For developers, the implication is clear: Review changes to the systems and libraries used in projects, and make sure that all are being used and configured in ways that permit them to do the job they're called to perform in the application.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
When It Comes To Security Tools, More Isn't More
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  1/11/2021
US Capitol Attack a Wake-up Call for the Integration of Physical & IT Security
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  1/11/2021
IoT Vendor Ubiquiti Suffers Data Breach
Dark Reading Staff 1/11/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2020: The Year in Security
Download this Tech Digest for a look at the biggest security stories that - so far - have shaped a very strange and stressful year.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise -- and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-3166
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-18
An issue was discovered on ASUS DSL-N14U-B1 1.1.2.3_805 devices. An attacker can upload arbitrary file content as a firmware update when the filename Settings_DSL-N14U-B1.trx is used. Once this file is loaded, shutdown measures on a wide range of services are triggered as if it were a real update, r...
CVE-2020-29446
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-18
Affected versions of Atlassian Fisheye & Crucible allow remote attackers to browse local files via an Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR) vulnerability in the WEB-INF directory. The affected versions are before version 4.8.5.
CVE-2020-15864
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-17
An issue was discovered in Quali CloudShell 9.3. An XSS vulnerability in the login page allows an attacker to craft a URL, with a constructor.constructor substring in the username field, that executes a payload when the user visits the /Account/Login page.
CVE-2021-3113
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-17
Netsia SEBA+ through 0.16.1 build 70-e669dcd7 allows remote attackers to discover session cookies via a direct /session/list/allActiveSession request. For example, the attacker can discover the admin's cookie if the admin account happens to be logged in when the allActiveSession request occurs, and ...
CVE-2020-25533
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-15
An issue was discovered in Malwarebytes before 4.0 on macOS. A malicious application was able to perform a privileged action within the Malwarebytes launch daemon. The privileged service improperly validated XPC connections by relying on the PID instead of the audit token. An attacker can construct ...