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Advisory RFP9905


Le patch publié par Zeus

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--- Advisory RFP9905 ------------------------------- rfp.labs -----------

Remote root compromise via Zeus webserver

(Zeus-search vulnerability)

--------------------------------- rain forest puppy / rfp@wiretrip.net --

Table of contents:
- 1. Scope of problem
- 2. Solution
- 3. Miscellaneous Updates


----[ 1. Scope of problem

Zeus is a high-performance webserver available from Zeus
Technologies (www.zeus.co.uk). There's a myriad of problems, that when
combined together, could yield a remote root compromise. Let's review the

-[ Bad search engine CGI

This is really the core of the problem. Zeus has the option to
setup a search engine for your virtual website(s). This feature is
accessible via www.zeus.server/search (not /search/, big difference). If
the engine is available (it's an optional feature), it can be used to
request any file that's accessible by the web server uid (which is *asked
for* on install...unwise administrators may pick 'root', which is a bad
choice. We shall assume they pick the typical 'nobody'). The mechanism
is in the search form:

<form action="/search" method=POST>
<input type=hidden name=indexfile
<input type=hidden name=template
Query: <input type=text name=expr value="">
<input type=submit value=Search>

Notice the values for indexfile and template. Hard server paths is
usually a good give-away. ;)

Now if we recreate our own form, we can change the values of indexfile and
template to suit our liking. Modifying indexfile will get us know where,
as it will be virtually impossible to find a file (worth reading) that
Zeus will read as a search index (since it's not in the proper internal
format). However, the template is more interesting. This is the file
that is opened and given to us, simply by replacing a few variables to
insert the search output. Well, who needs search output. If we change
template to be /etc/passed, you'll get /etc/passwd as your search result.
Simple enough. Let's dig deeper...

-[ Administrative interface password

Zeus comes with a web UI for administration. This server is
typically plopped on port 9090, and is installed as *ROOT*. This is
important, since it needs to change the configuration files around. There
is no option to not run it as root. Well, technically, you can, but it
won't startup, due to insufficient permissions to open and modify various
configuration files. I suppose you can really tweak it to run as a
non-root uid, but it's a load of thought to convert everything over by

Anyways, so the UI runs as root...it would be nice to be able to play
around with root permissions, eh? The only thing stopping us is a http
authentication login. And since we can read any file on the server, how
about reading the file with the administrative password? The
configuration file for the administrative website is (by default)
/usr/local/zeus/admin/website. In this file you'll see a line similiar

modules!access!users!admin yoEPUmukiYLrPvz4jqBeJQ==

This is the username/password combo. The default is 'admin' for a
user...but unfortunately the password is queried on install. The format
is pretty simple -- base 64 uuencoded MD5 hash. Let's verify.

My password is 'admrox'. First I make a small file with the following

begin-base64 644 test.out

Notice it's just the password from the Zeus configuration file. I now run
this through uudecode and hexdump:

[[root@wicca /tmp]# cat password.txt | uudecode -o - | hexdump
0000000 81ca 520f a46b 8289 3eeb f8fc a08e 255e

Now, I can compare with the known MD5 hash of my password:

[[root@wicca /tmp]# md5sum --string="admrox"
ca810f526ba48982eb3efcf88ea05e25 "admrox"

Looking at them side by side:

81ca 520f a46b 8289 3eeb f8fc a08e 255e
ca81 0f52 6ba4 8982 eb3e fcf8 8ea0 5e25

A little byte inversion, and we have a match. Based on this you can
modify your brute force password cracker of choice to run through the
available choices (I prefer John the Ripper for this particular operation.
Available from www.openwall.com/john/). I will leave brute force cracking
the password up to you. But it is feasible to find the password. Now
that we have it...

-[ Using the web administration UI

This is just more of an afterthought. It's possible to do many
nasty things, including making a virtual website who's document root is /,
enabling file uploads (via http PUT method), etc. If you enable file
uploads, you can upload binaries or Zeus scripts into the web
administration UI directory (default is /usr/local/zeus/admin/docroot) and
then call them through the UI--which will then be ran as root. I leave
the possible forms of attack to your imagination.

----[ 2. Solution

Well, it's two-fold: for now, you should immediately disable the
search engine on any virtual sites you may have. This will stop the
attack. It is also wise to restrict access to the web administration UI
to a select few hosts. The ability to do this is provided in the web UI.

I would like to mention that Zeus really is an amazing little server...and
the UI is really nicely done. It supports a lot of stuff, and has some
interesting functionality. I recommend giving it a whirl. Runs on the
majority of Unix platforms. Unfortunately the price is a bit steep
($1699). Luckily they have a 30-day eval. ;)

----[ 3. Miscellaneous Updates

A few notes while I have the chance to say them:

Whisker 1.1.1 has been released. It fixes a lot of various bugs on both
unix and windows platforms. I suggest you download the latest version
from www.wiretrip.net/rfp/. It's important that windows users read the
included install.txt file.

I've also received some wonderful feedback and scan scripts. I will be
compiling and releasing them next weekend, with the last Octoberfest
release. Actually, next weekend will definatley be the grand finale. ;)
I'm shooting for the launch of my website, new scan scripts, another
'release', and maybe some extra whitepapers and whatnot scattered into the
mix. All in time for the Samhain New Year. :)

Many thanks to wabe for giving me the idea to check out Zeus. :)

--- rain forest puppy / rfp@wiretrip.net ------------- ADM / wiretrip ---

I'm just doing this until a good fast-food job opens up

--- Advisory RFP9905 ------------------------------ rfp.labs ------------


Le patch proposé par Zeus:

Zeus Technology has uploaded new binaries to fix the root compromise bug
in the Zeus Webserver reported by Rain Forest Puppy yesterday.

The bug affects all versions of Zeus prior to 3.3.2. It is recommended
that customers upgrade as soon as possible. Customers who are not making
use of the search module are not affected, and need only upgrade if they
plan to start using it in the future.

Full details of how to upgrade to the new binaries are at:


Customers upgrading from version 3.1.9 or earlier will need to follow the
upgrade instructions at:


It is worth noting also, that provided you had set the webserver to run as
non-privileged user, the risk from the search module bug is relatively
slight, as someone exploiting it under those circumstances would find it
difficult to compromise root, provided you have chosen a secure password
for access to the admin server. This should serve as reminder always to
run your web process as a non-root user.

To ensure that the Zeus admin server is as secure as possible, you should
restrict access to the admin server port (9090 by default) to designated
machines. You can do this with by setting access restrictions on the
"Security Settings" configuration page for the admin server, and/or by
configuring your firewall appropriately.

You should also ensure (to prevent Crack-type attacks on your admin server
password), that you choose a password for the admin server which is as
secure as one you choose for root on your machine. (Ie, mixture of
alphanumeric and punction characters, mixture of upper and lowercase, no
dictionary words or parts thereof, etc.)

Julian Midgley
Technical Support Manager jmidgley@zeustechnology.com
Zeus Technology http://www.zeustechnology.com
For technical support queries, email support@zeustechnology.com, being
sure to include your customer account number in the subject header.

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