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Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:50:37 -0700
From: Seth Arnold <>
Subject: Re: CVE request: FD leakage for cgi program on Monkey

On Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 04:40:29PM -0500, John Lightsey wrote:
> > These sorts of events brought about a general consensus that scripts
> > or other programmable code executed directly by the webserver was by
> > definition completely trusted. If you don't trust the CGIs or plugin
> > modules as much as the webserver, you'd run them via FastCGI as another
> > user or otherwise use the webserver as a proxy in front of the services.
> > 
> > Yes, a CGI could accept() connections on those sockets and generally
> > muck things up -- but they already run with the full privileges of the
> > webserver.
> CGI scripts don't run with the full privileges of the webserver. They
> typically run with the privileges appropriate to a container inside the
> webserver (a combination of virtualhost configuration directives, URL
> address space, document root and  uid/gid.)

"Document root" means nothing without an enforcement mechanism from the
OS, such as:

- Running with a different user id that has different rights
- Running with a different security context (via a MAC system such as
  AppArmor, SELinux, SMACK, TOMOYO, Trusted Solaris, etc.) that has
  different rights.
- Running with a different seccomp2 profile to turn off certain system
- Running in an OS-supplied container such as lxc, OpenVZ, or BSD Jail
- Running in a virtualized environment where the virtualizing system in
  place can provide confinement in conjunction with one of the above.

This is why the php "safe open" functionality was such a joke. It was
never safe, under any definition that a user might use. The webserver's
idea of the "webroot" in no way influences anything any CGI script ever
does. Ever. :)

> A user on the server that can edit CGI scripts in one context shouldn't
> be able to take over other contexts on the same system. How would shared
> hosting and userdir be possible if CGI scripts were allowed to do this?

A single web server providing CGIs that can be run by multiple users in
different contexts is one thing -- Apache's suEXEC mechanism, for

I don't see anything on the Monkey website that suggests it is remotely
reasonable to use for serving CGIs from users with differing levels of

> You could certainly argue that some webservers are not written to
> support shared hosting or userdir style functionality, but Monkey
> clearly is written to support it.
> I don't see how this issue is very different from CVE-2012-4442 and
> CVE-2012-4443. Do you believe those CVEs were not appropriate?

CVE-2012-4442 and CVE-2012-4443 (failure to drop supplementary gids,
failure to drop root uid and gid when running CGIs, for those reading
along at home) were probably appropriate for two reasons: (a) Monkey
probably made some effort at dropping privileges and just screwed it up
in the same way everyone else did a decade earlier (b) no one expects a
webserver to run as root once it has bound its sockets. Even a webserver
claimed to be "lightweight" is _expected_ to drop all the unneeded
privileges once running.

But not all webservers are expected to try to enforce running CGIs with
different security boundaries. Apache chose to try, and faults in their
suEXEC ought to be allocated CVEs. I don't see anything on the Monkey
website to document any suEXEC-alike functionality.

Obviously Kurt disagreed with me and allocated a CVE :) so in some sense
this whole discussion is now hypothetical.

If Monkey _does_ claim to provide a secure way to execute CGIs owned by
different users, then a CVE is surely warranted. Does Monkey claim to be
a secure way to execute code from untrusted sources?


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