Advisory EM08/2004: Subversion remote vulnerability

                           e-matters GmbH

-= Security Advisory =-

Advisory: Subversion remote vulnerability
Release Date: 2004/05/19
Last Modified: 2004/05/19
Author: Stefan Esser []

Application: Subversion <= 1.0.2
Severity: A vulnerability within Subversion allows remote
compromise of Subversion servers.
Risk: Critical
Vendor Status: Vendor is releasing a bugfixed version.


Quote from:

"The goal of the Subversion project is to build a version control system
that is a compelling replacement for CVS in the open source community.
The software is released under an Apache/BSD-style open source license.

Features of Subversion

* Most current CVS features
* Directories, renames, and file meta-data are versioned
* Commits are truly atomic
* Apache network server option, with WebDAV/DeltaV protocol
* Standalone server option
* Branching and tagging are cheap (constant time) operations
* Natively client/server, layered library design
* Client/server protocol sends diffs in both directions
* Costs are proportional to change size, not data size
* Efficient handling of binary files
* Parseable output"

Subversion versions up to 1.0.2 are vulnerable to a date parsing
vulnerability which can be abused to allow remote code execution
on Subversion servers and therefore could lead to a repository


Similar to the libneon issue a manual scan for common programming errors
revealed an unsafe call to sscanf() in one of Subversions date parsing

When Subversions tries to convert a string into an apr_time_t it falls
back to the vulnerable sscanf() to decode old-styled date strings.
This function is exposed to an external attacker through a DAV2 REPORT
query or a get-dated-rev svn-protocol command.

Both ways have been proven exploitable, but exploiting through the
DAV2 protocol is somewhat harder because the date string has to be
in utf-8 format. On the other hand exploiting through the svn-protocol
is a trivial standard stackoverflow with the exception that whitespace
and the '\0' character is forbidden.

And as a sidenotice: Exploiting this stackoverflow is even possible
when Propolice or similar protections are in place because a lot of
fancy things can be done by overwriting the function parameters.

Proof of Concept:

e-matters is not going to release an exploit for this vulnerability to
the public.

Disclosure Timeline:

02. May 2004 - Subversion developers and vendor-sec were notified
by email
03. May 2004 - Subversion vendor started their own analysis of the issue
and started compiling a list of big repositories to
receive pre-notifications
11. May 2004 - Big subversion repositories (not already contacted
through vendor-sec) got pre-notified
19. May 2004 - Coordinated Public Disclosure

CVE Information:

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project ( has
assigned the name CAN-2004-0397 to this issue.


Exploiting this vulnerability on not heavily protected servers is trivial
even for beginners, therefore it is strongly recommended to update
immediately. Even Propolice users aren't safe because overwriting function
arguments allows some fancy exploits.


pub 1024D/3004C4BC 2004-05-17 e-matters GmbH - Securityteam
Key fingerprint = 3FFB 7C86 7BE8 6981 D1DA A71A 6F7D 572D 3004 C4BC

Copyright 2004 Stefan Esser. All rights reserved.

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