Advisory 04/2005 - Cacti Remote Command Execution Vulnerability

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Hardened - PHP Project

-= Security Advisory =-

Advisory: Cacti Remote Command Execution Vulnerability
Release Date: 2005/07/01
Last Modified: 2005/07/01
Author: Stefan Esser []

Application: Cacti <= 0.8.6e
Severity: Wrongly implemented user input filters allows
injection of user input into executed commandline
Risk: Critical
Vendor Status: Vendor has released an updated version


Quote from
"Cacti is a complete network graphing solution designed to harness
the power of RRDTool's data storage and graphing functionality.
Cacti provides a fast poller, advanced graph templating, multiple
data acquisition methods, and user management features out of the
box. All of this is wrapped in an intuitive, easy to use interface
that makes sense for LAN-sized installations up to complex
networks with hundreds of devices."

Alberto Trivero posted his Remote Command Execution Exploit for
Cacti <= 0.8.6d to Bugtraq on the 22th June. Having analysed his
bug we come to the conclusion, that the malfunctioning input
filters, which were already mentioned in the previous advisory
are also responsible for this bug still being exploitable.


With the recent release of Cacti 0.8.6e a number of user input
filters were added to the codebase to prevent a number of
SQL Injection problems.

However these user input filters that made Alberto Trivero
believe, that his remote command execution vulnerability was
also fixed, are wrongly implemented and therefore can be
bypassed to execute arbitrary commands on the webserver.

To demonstrate the problem here a snipset of "graph_image.php"

/* ================= input validation ================= */
/* ==================================================== */


/* override: graph start time (unix time) */
if (!empty($_GET["graph_start"])) {
$graph_data_array["graph_start"] = $_GET["graph_start"];


print rrdtool_function_graph($_GET["local_graph_id"],
$_GET["rra_id"], $graph_data_array);

On the first look this code looks like it has fixed the remote
command execution vulnerability through the 'graph_*' request
parameters, because it requires them to be a number before
passing them to the rrdtool.

To realize that this check is however worth nothing one has to
dig deeper and look into the implementation of get_request_var()

function get_request_var($name, $default = "")
if (isset($_REQUEST[$name]))
return $_REQUEST[$name];
} else
return $default;

This actually means that the filter in this example is applied to
the content of $_REQUEST["graph_start"] instead of
$_GET["graph_start"]. The problem with this is, that $_REQUEST is
a merged version of the $_GET, $_POST and $_COOKIE arrays and
therefore array keys of the same name will overwrite each other

In the default configuration of PHP which is usually not changed
by anyone the merge order is GPC. This means when the request
contains both $_GET["graph_start"] and $_POST["graph_start"], only
the posted value will end up in the $_REQUEST array.

This however means, that an attacker can still inject shell
commands by supplying the injection string through the URL and
supplying a good string through POST or through the COOKIE.

Proof of Concept:

The Hardened-PHP Project is not going to release exploits
for this vulnerabilities to the public.

Disclosure Timeline:

25. June 2005 - Contacted Cacti developers via email
29. June 2005 - Review of patch from our side
1. July 2005 - Release of updated Cacti and Public Disclosure


We strongly recommend upgrading to Cacti 0.8.6f which you can get at

Summary for Secunia:

Because Secunia proofed several times in the past, that they have
enormous problems with reading advisories and crediting the right
parties in their advísory rip-offs, here a short summary.

The bug described in this advisory is an input filtering malfunction.
This is related to, but not exactly the bug Alberto Trivero found,
because when he audited Cacti there was no input filtering at all.


pub 1024D/0A864AA1 2004-04-17 Hardened-PHP Signature Key
Key fingerprint = 066F A6D0 E57E 9936 9082 7E52 4439 14CC 0A86 4AA1

Copyright 2005 Stefan Esser. All rights reserved.

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Comment: For info see


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