SSD Advisory – Symantec Critical System Protection Remote Code Execution

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Symantec Critical System Protection provides policy-based behavior control and detection for server and desktop computers. Symantec Critical System Protection includes management console and server components, and agent components that enforce policies on computers.
Vulnerability Details
The agent control interface of the SCSP Server (sis-agent) is affected by a remote unauthenticated code execution vulnerability. This interface is used by the IDS/IPS agents to communicate with the SCSP server: register themselves, fetch policy updates, report events, etc. Since all the protected hosts need to communicate with the SCSP Server we can expect that this interface will be exposed to wide network ranges.

The problem is caused by the fact that SCSP doesn’t properly validate bulk log file uploads allowing connecting parties (Agents and attackers acting like Agents) to place arbitrary files on the client system. By placing JSP files under one of the several web application root directories of the Apache Tomcat server included in the Server package an attacker can open an interactive command shell.
The vulnerable code resides in the BulklogHandler class of the sis-agent application. The sis-agent application uses a custom HTTP(S)-wrapped protocol that is similar to the standard multipart POST requests. In this protocol the body of the HTTP request is divided into multiple parts. Each part starts with a simple header that describes the type (plaintext, xml, binary) and size (in bytes, without the header) of the part. Each part can contain application Properties. In case of plaintext data-type, Properties are simple key-value pairs. The body of each request (and response) is ended with a line containing the “EOF_FLAG” string. The lines of the request body are ended with ASCII 0x0A. An example request body looks like this:

agent.osversion=7 Service Pack 1

The agent interface relies on the Java Servlet technology. User requests are routed through several classes which parse the incoming properties. The main logic of the Agent communication interface is implemented in multiple Handler classes. In case of the BulklogHandler class the users request first gets handled by the handleRequest() method that immediately calls the logFile() method for every “properties” part of the request:

// JAD decompiled code snippet
private void logFile(Properties prop, byte data[], boolean repeat) throws Exception{
 String filename;
 File file;
 FileOutputStream fout;
 filename = prop.getProperty("");
 file = getBulkLogFile(filename);
 fout = null;
 fout = new FileOutputStream(file);
// ...

The first method parameter holds the parsed properties from the request. The second parameter holds the corresponding binary part (the contents of the file to be uploaded). The method immediately calls the getBulLogFile() method in order to get the appropriate file descriptor object:

// JAD decompiled code snippet
private File getBulkLogFile(String filename)
 File file;
 String agentName = null;
 int index = filename.indexOf('.', 24);
 if(index > 0)
  agentName = filename.substring(24, index);
  agentName = filename.substring(24);
 String date = mFormat.format(mParser.parse(filename.substring(0, 8)));
 String parentFolder = (new StringBuilder()).append(SisProperties.getBulkLogDir()).append(FILE_SEP).append(agentName).append(FILE_SEP).append(date).toString();
 File parent = new File(parentFolder);
 file = new File(parentFolder, filename);
 return file;
 Throwable th;
 throw new IllegalArgumentException((new StringBuilder()).append("Corrupted bulk log filename [").append(filename).append("]!!").toString(), th);

This method first tries to determine the name of the agent, taking the substring of the file name from the 24th character to the first dot after that. It then parses the first 8 characters of the given filename as a date. The uploaded files will be placed into their own directories (parent path), the directory structure looks like LOG_ROOT/AGENT_NAME/FORMATTED_DATE. This structure is created with the parent.mkdirs() call. The final path of the file descriptor is then created basically by concatenating the original file name to the parent path.
Based on this, arbitrary file write can be achieved as follows:

  • Register an agent using the /register interface and retreive the agent GUID that should be used as a session identifier in the later steps
  • Initiate a file upload with an agent name in the form of YYYY-MM-DD/YYYYMMDD where YYYYMMDD and YYYY-MM-DD are the same valid dates. The file upload will fail, but the directory structure will be created. This way we can create a path that we will need for the next step
  • Initiate another file upload with a filename formatted in the following way: YYYYMMDD/../../../././././PATH_FROM_TOMCAT . The most obvious way to use this opportunity is to upload a JSP shell to the sis-agent interface

SCSP Server runs with NT_AUTHORITY\SYSTEM privileges by default. A separate user account can be provided at install time. Running SCSP with fewer privileges can reduce the potential impact of this vulnerability.
Vulnerable Version
Symantec Critical System Protection Server 5.2.9, Windows 7 (32-bit)
Vendor Response
The vendor has acknowledged the discovery and have released a patch, Security Advisories Relating to Symantec Products – Symantec Data Center Security: Server Advanced, Multiple Security Issues on Management Server and Protection Policies Rule Bypass.
Multiple CVE entries have been assigned to this vulnerability: CVE-2014-7289, CVE-2014-9224, CVE-2014-9225, CVE-2014-9226


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