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PHP Security Advisory: Vulnerability in PHP versions 4.2.0 and 4.2.1

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jul 23, 2002


The PHP Group has learned of a serious security vulnerability in PHP versions 4.2.0 and 4.2.1. An intruder may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the web server. This vulnerability may be exploited to compromise the web server and, under certain conditions, to gain privileged access.

Subject: [ANNOUNCE] PHP Security Advisory: Vulnerability in PHP versions 4.2.0 and    4.2.1

PHP Security Advisory: Vulnerability in PHP versions 4.2.0 and 4.2.1


Issued on: July 22, 2002
Software:  PHP versions 4.2.0 and 4.2.1
Platforms: All
The PHP Group has learned of a serious security vulnerability in PHP versions 4.2.0 and 4.2.1. An intruder may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the web server. This vulnerability may be exploited to compromise the web server and, under certain conditions, togain privileged access.

The PHP Group has learned of a serious security vulnerability in PHP versions 4.2.0 and 4.2.1. An intruder may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the web server. This vulnerability may be exploited to compromise the web server and, under certain conditions, to gain privileged access.

Description
PHP contains code for intelligently parsing the headers of HTTP POST requests. The code is used to differentiate between variables and files sent by the user agent in a "multipart/form-data" request. This parser has insufficient input checking, leading to the vulnerability.

The vulnerability is exploitable by anyone who can send HTTP POST requests to an affected web server. Both local and remote users, even from behind firewalls, may be able to gain privileged access.

Impact
Both local and remote users may exploit this vulnerability to compromise the web server and, under certain conditions, to gain privileged access.

So far only the IA32 platform has been verified to be safe from the execution of arbitrary code. The vulnerability can still be used on IA32 to crash PHP and, in most cases, the web server.

Solution
The PHP Group has released a new PHP version, 4.2.2, which incorporates a fix for the vulnerability. All users of affected PHP versions are encouraged to upgrade to this latest version. The downloads web site at http://www.php.net/downloads.php has the new 4.2.2 source tarballs, Windows binaries and source patches from 4.2.0 and 4.2.1 available for download.

Workaround
If the PHP applications on an affected web server do not rely on HTTP POST input from user agents, it is often possible to deny POST requests on the web server.

In the Apache web server, for example, this is possible with the following code included in the main configuration file or a top-level .htaccess file:

      
          Order deny,allow
          Deny from all
      
   

Note that an existing configuration and/or .htaccess file may have parameters contradicting the example given above.

Credits
The PHP Group would like to thank Stefan Esser of e-matters GmbH for discovering this vulnerability.

Copyright (c) 2002 The PHP Group.

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