Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2013 05:31:06 +0400 From: Solar Designer <solar@...nwall.com> To: oss-security@...ts.openwall.com Subject: CVE-2013-4402 GnuPG infinite recursion in the compressed packet parser Hi, As many of you know, GnuPG 1.4.15 was released a few days ago with: * Fixed possible infinite recursion in the compressed packet parser. [CVE-2013-4402] http://lists.gnupg.org/pipermail/gnupg-announce/2013q4/000334.html There's now a nice writeup by Taylor R. Campbell, who invented the attack on GnuPG, and it applies to more than just GnuPG: http://mumble.net/~campbell/blag.txt I'll quote it below for those reading oss-security archives a while later, not to rely on it still being near the beginning of blag.txt. --- 2013-10-08 On compression in data formats If you have a large message which you want to sign and encrypt with OpenPGP, you might compress it first. Or you might compress it second. Or, if you're not thinking much about it, you might `compress' it last, although if that actually reduces the size there are some cryptographers who would like to have a word with you. In any case, the OpenPGP message format lets you do any of these, because there is a type of OpenPGP packet for compressed data, whose content is interpreted as another OpenPGP packet. OpenPGP agents, such as GnuPG, are expected to recursively process packets they encounter in a message, decrypting ciphertext and verifying signatures and decompressing compressed data, until they hit a ground case, usually a literal data packet. Since messages are built up by starting with a literal data packet and layering encryption, signature, and compression atop it, this process should always halt at a ground case, right? Well, no. Decryption and verification (or, removing a signature) always yield smaller packets than you began with, so there has to be a ground case for those, but decompressing usually yields a larger packet than you began with. So you might play a cruel trick on your friend by sending a very small email with a compressed packet that decompresses to a terabyte of zeros. Or you could send an email with a compressed packet that decompresses to...itself. How does that work? The Lempel-Ziv compression language is powerful enough to write a quine -- that is, a program that prints its own source code. Rather than repeat the story here, I'll defer to Russ Cox's article on how to write these: Russ Cox, `Zip Files All The Way Down', 2010-03-18. http://research.swtch.com/zip In the case of OpenPGP, it was particularly easy because OpenPGP supports a number of compression algorithms including an option without any CRC, so one can write a program that just spits out an OpenPGP compression quine without iterating over CRCs or solving a horrible system of equations. The result is CVE-2013-4402, and the lesson is that systematic recursive compression is no good -- not only that it's not useful, but it is actively harmful. It's especially harmful for programs that process input sent unsolicited from anywhere on the internet, namely mail readers. And OpenPGP isn't the only data format that supports recursive compression. PGP/MIME, which recursively interleaves MIME entities and OpenPGP packets, can probably exhibit the same issue, and the small bound on recursion that GnuPG now imposes while processing packets will be thwarted by the interleaving. S/MIME 3.1 supports a compressed data message type, although nobody seems to have implemented it. I'm sure there are formats outside mail that can also involve recursive compression. Which ones can you find? --- Alexander
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