Bug 487251 - (CVE-2009-0688) CVE-2009-0688 cyrus-sasl: sasl_encode64() does not reliably null-terminate its output
CVE-2009-0688 cyrus-sasl: sasl_encode64() does not reliably null-terminate it...
Product: Security Response
Classification: Other
Component: vulnerability (Show other bugs)
All Linux
high Severity high
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Assigned To: Red Hat Product Security
: Security
Depends On: 504186 504207
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Reported: 2009-02-24 20:09 EST by James Ralston
Modified: 2010-12-20 17:15 EST (History)
9 users (show)

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Fixed In Version:
Doc Type: Bug Fix
Doc Text:
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Clone Of:
Last Closed: 2010-12-20 17:15:17 EST
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RHEL 7.3 requirements from Atomic Host:
Cloudforms Team: ---

Attachments (Terms of Use)
Upstream patch to fix the issue (742 bytes, patch)
2009-04-28 17:13 EDT, Vincent Danen
no flags Details | Diff

  None (edit)
Comment 2 James Ralston 2009-04-08 16:36:00 EDT
Ok, I tracked down the problem with imtest.

The problem is that imtest is calling sasl_encode64() (from cyrus-sasl) to base64-encode the data before sending it to the server, but is telling sasl_encode64() that the buffer size into which it should place the encoded data is 2048 bytes long.

Look at the call to sasl_encode64() in auth_sasl() to see what I mean:


sasl_encode64() calculates that the encoded data would be greater than 2048 bytes, and returns SASL_BUFOVER.

The solution is to replace "2048" with "(unsigned) sizeof(inbase64)".

However, while investigating this problem I took a close look at sasl_encode64() and realized that the comments do not match the code. Specifically, the comments state that sasl_encode64() null-terminates the encoded data:


However, this is only true if the size of the base64-encoded output is less than the size of the output buffer. If the size of the base64-encoded output would be greater than the size of the output buffer, sasl_encode64() returns SASL_BUFOVER, but if the size of the base64-encoded output is exactly the same size as the output buffer, the output buffer will NOT be null-terminated. This is easy to see by the tests at the beginning and end of the function:

    /* Will it fit? */
    olen = (inlen + 2) / 3 * 4;
    if (outlen)
      *outlen = olen;
    if (outmax < olen)
      return SASL_BUFOVER;


    if (olen < outmax)
      *out = '\0';

Now, if the fifth argument to sasl_encode64() is non-null, sasl_encode64 will write the size of the output it wrote to the location pointed to by the fifth argument. If the caller of sasl_encode64() then explicitly uses that size to read the contents of the output buffer, and never relies on (or calls a function that relies on) the output buffer being null-terminated, no buffer overflow is possible.

But when I realized that the comments describing sasl_encode64() were misleading, I scanned the rest of the Cyrus IMAP source code, and found multiple unsafe uses of sasl_encode64(); that is, instances where the caller of sasl_encode64() did not handle the case where sasl_encode64() would not null-terminate its output, and then performed subsequent operations (e.g., str* functions) that assume their input is always null-terminated. I found those unsafe uses of sasl_encode64() solely in the cyrus-imap package; I didn't bother to look in any other packages.

Given that there may be many more vendors/packages whose authors were misled into using sasl_encode64() unsafely, I have also reported this to CERT. The CERT report tracking ID is VRF#FTACZUPV.

(I have NOT updated the Andrew Bugzilla bug report, because that bug report is world-readable.)
Comment 3 Tomas Mraz 2009-04-08 17:18:25 EDT
It seems there is one buggy usage of sasl_encode64 in cyrus-sasl itself as well. The problem is in create_nonce() in plugins/digestmd5.c. The function always passes a buffer of exactly the required length so it is never null-terminated, but the buffer is later handled as a null-terminated string.
Comment 5 Tomas Mraz 2009-04-08 17:56:40 EDT
Also we must note that the callers will have to be fixed if they are wrong and not the sasl_encode64 itself. Fixing sasl_encode64() - that is returning the error if the buffer does not contain space for the nul terminator - would break ABI.
Comment 6 James Ralston 2009-04-09 11:58:33 EDT
Unfortunately, yes, it would; any caller that knew how much space would be required for base64 encoding and allocated a buffer of exactly that size would break if sasl_encode64() were changed to always null-terminate its output, because sasl_encode64() would then fail with SASL_BUFOVER.

As Tomas noted in comment 3, this is exactly what create_nonce() does.
Comment 8 Vincent Danen 2009-04-28 17:13:19 EDT
Created attachment 341654 [details]
Upstream patch to fix the issue
Comment 10 Tomas Mraz 2009-05-05 09:58:43 EDT
I don't think there is any way to fix it "cleverly" without breaking ABI. So the callers will have to be found and fixed (if there are any broken ones).

BTW I was mistaken in the comment #3 as the encode64() call in create_nonce() in digestmd5.c is OK because there is different rounding in the create_nonce() than in the encode64() which fortunately for the nonce size always produces buffer large enough to hold the terminating '\0'.
Comment 13 Jan Lieskovsky 2009-05-15 11:23:49 EDT
Already public via CERT VU#238019 advisory (lifting embargo):

The Cyrus SASL library contains a buffer overflow vulnerability
that could allow an attacker to execute code or cause a vulnerable
program to crash. The sasl_encode64() function converts a string
into base64. The Cyrus SASL library contains buffer overflows that
occur because of unsafe use of the sasl_encode64() function.
A remote attacker might be able to execute code, or cause any programs
relying on SASL to crash or be unavailable.


Credit: James Ralston
Comment 14 Jan Lieskovsky 2009-05-15 11:30:06 EDT
CVE-2009-0688 entry:

Multiple buffer overflows in the CMU Cyrus SASL library before 2.1.23
might allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a
denial of service (application crash) via strings that are used as
input to the sasl_encode64 function in lib/saslutil.c. 

Comment 15 Jan Lieskovsky 2009-05-15 12:07:24 EDT
Cyrus vendor stamenet regarding the patch and potential fix
(from http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/RGII-7RYLZQ):

While this patch will fix currently vulnerable code, it can cause non-vulnerable existing code to break. Here's a function prototype
from include/saslutil.h to clarify my explanation:

/* base64 encode
* in -- input data
* inlen -- input data length
* out -- output buffer (will be NUL terminated)
* outmax -- max size of output buffer
* result:
* outlen -- gets actual length of output buffer (optional)
* Returns SASL_OK on success, SASL_BUFOVER if result won't fit
LIBSASL_API int sasl_encode64(const char *in, unsigned inlen,
char *out, unsigned outmax, unsigned *outlen);

Assume a scenario where calling code has been written in such a way
that it calculates the exact size required for base64 encoding in
advance, then allocates a buffer of that exact size, passing
a pointer to the buffer into sasl_encode64() as *out. As long as
this code does not anticipate that the buffer is NUL-terminated
(does not call any string-handling functions like strlen(),
for example) the code will work and it will not be vulnerable.

Once this patch is applied, that same code will break because
sasl_encode64() will begin to return SASL_BUFOVER.
Comment 17 Josh Bressers 2009-05-29 16:03:30 EDT
I did some investigation into this today. Here is what I found

The things in RHEL that use cyrus-sasl:

cyrus-sasl - tmraz says this was checked and is OK

postfix - Enough space is allocated in the RHEL version

cyrus-imapd - This one just allocates a large buffer, we need to see if that works as expected.

mutt - mutt does some clever things with the string once it's used, it might be a problem. Given it's using a heap variable, an info leak is going to be very unlikely, a crash will be the expected outcome (I would not call this a security flaw)

inn - It allocates buffer * 2, which is more than needed.

sendmail - Sendmail has some questionable uses in sendmail/usersmtp.c, the same issue as cyrus-imapd above.

Both in the sendmail and syrus-imapd cases, the strings in question are not used for anything odd, they are simply copied elsewhere. That means that we're going to see a crash, leaking some memory to the server, or auth failures.

As the reporter noticed the issue in cyrus-imapd, that obviously needs to be fixed.
Comment 19 Tomas Hoger 2009-06-18 13:59:20 EDT
cyrus-imapd and sendmail case are further tracked via separate bugs:

- sendmail - bug #504186 - further investigation showed all sasl_encode64 uses are safe, no update needed

- cyrus-imapd - bug #504207 - updates for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 were released via RHSA-2009:1116
Comment 20 Vincent Danen 2009-06-18 14:04:09 EDT
Due to the fact that the upstream fix for Cyrus SASL introduces a significant enough change that it would break ABI compatibility, the Cyrus SASL library itself will not be updated.  However, we have investigated a number of applications that use the sasl_encode64() function to ensure they use it correctly.  As a result of this investigation, Cyrus IMAP has been updated to correct the flaw (bug #504207, released as RHSA-2009:1116).  With this Cyrus IMAP update, we believe all programs that use this function from Cyrus SASL incorrectly have been fixed, and as such this is no longer an issue for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Comment 24 gistahuang 2009-08-18 15:28:55 EDT
Is there a way to safely update the current Cyrus SASL 2.1.22 to 2.1.23 on RHEL 5.3? There are numerous dependancies on the 2.1.22 that we are afraid will break the system if we update to 2.1.23.

E_eye Retina Scanner still report this as Major, Category I vulnerability during scanning as of Aug/18/2009.
Comment 25 Jan F. Chadima 2010-03-29 08:13:44 EDT
The only difference between 2.1.22 and 2.1.23 is the CVE-2009-0688 workaround same as is in RHEL-5. Replacing RHEL-5's cyrus-sasl by the vanila 2.1.23 may lead some bugs into system, because the RHEL-5's one have some other bugs fixed.

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