In a move aimed at showing up other security researchers, Gobbles Security
on Wednesday released source code to a program that exploits a serious
security flaw in the popular Apache Web server.
Experts confirmed that
Apache-scalp.c, posted to
several security mailing lists and online libraries, provides remote
attackers with a command shell on unpatched OpenBSD systems running Apache
In an e-mail interview Thursday, Gobbles Security said it released the code
because it had reached a "breaking point" following comments about the flaw
this week from other security professionals.
"We had read too much bullshit from `experts' concerning the bug, and their
idiotic statements as to why it isn't exploitable, and how lucky the world
is because it wasn't exploitable," said Gobbles.
According to the non-profit security group, Apache-scalp.c was modified
from a multi-platform version Gobbles developed last November. Gobbles said
it is "undecided" about when it will release exploits for other Apache
platforms, including Sun Solaris, Linux, and FreeBSD.
"Now that people know the bug is actually exploitable, there is no reason
to hurry up and hand over exploits to the $$$ security world," said Gobbles.
The first advisory describing the "chunked encoding" vulnerability on
Apache was released Monday by Internet Security Systems. According to the
advisory, ISS's X-Force research group discovered a bug in the Windows
version of Apache 1.3.24, but ISS believed that "successful exploitation on
most Unix platforms is unlikely."
Chris Rouland, director of X-Force, said Thursday that ISS has confirmed
that the Gobbles exploit works against OpenBSD.
"Yesterday this was just a vulnerability. Today, it's a threat. The entire
world population of hackers is now armed with a tool to break into
OpenBSD/Apache systems," he said.
FRAGROUTE HACK CONNECTION? According to Rouland, ISS had no knowledge that exploits for the flaw were
in circulation when it released its advisory. But he said the company was
confident that "a hostile third-party" would develop one.
"The fact that it turns out than an exploit has been in the wild for a few
months indicates to me that we did the right thing ethically," said Rouland.
A comment line in Apache-scalp.c suggested that the exploit may have been
used in last month's compromise of
Monkey.org, which enabled attackers to place "back doors" in the source
code to the Dsniff, Fragroute, and Fragrouter network security tools.
According to Gobbles, the security group was not directly responsible for
the Monkey.org break-in.
"A close friend of ours, who we share our private/prerelease exploits with,
told us a few months ago that our exploit worked flawlessly against
monkey.org. That's all we know of the situation," said Gobbles.
Dug Song, Monkey.org's operator and developer of the networking tools, was
not immediately available for comment.
Responding to the ISS advisory, on Monday the Apache Software Foundation revealed that it had been previously notified by NGSSoftware of a
denial-of-service attack on Apache on Windows. The consortium said further
investigation showed that the issue also affected other Apache platforms,
and could present a remote-root exploit vulnerability.
Eeye Digital Security, which publicized a chunked-encoding bug in
Microsoft's IIS Web server on June 12, has released a free tool
that scans for servers vulnerable to the Apache chunked-encoding
vulnerability By Brian McWilliams