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Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:33:21 +0200
From: Florian Weimer <>
Subject: Re: Re: CVE-2014-6271: remote code execution through
 bash (3rd vulnerability)

On 09/26/2014 10:54 AM, Mark R Bannister wrote:
> Testing patch 25 and 26 from Chet, it looks to me like this is still an incomplete fix.  The third vulnerability I'd like to report is the feature itself in bash that allows functions to be passed in the environment, e.g.
> $ env ls='() { echo vulnerable; }' bash -c ls
> This allows an attacker to replace a command used by a bash script with arbitrary code.  It is then down to an attacker to find a suitable command that the bash script (or any child shells) might call without a path component.
> I can't see this being a problem for Apache custom headers (the variable name is turned to uppercase and prefixed by HTTP_), nor sudo commands if env_reset is on (the default), but this continues to be a major vulnerability for setuid/setgid scripts (S_ISUID or S_ISGID) where the environment is preserved.

I agree this looks scary at first glance, but we discussed this 
previously, see for example:


Shell scripts derive part of their power and flexibility from their 
openness to the execution environment.  You can tweak PATH, BASH_ENV (or 
ENV for other Bourne-like shells), IFS, HOME, and many other variables 
to change behavior.  There are even more knobs to affect the behavior of 
the external commands almost all shell scripts call when they run.

This makes them not suitable at all for writing SUID programs or other 
code that runs in untrusted environments.  This is well-documented, and 
given the amount of shell scripts out there which rely on these aspects 
of the UNIX shell design, it's not something we can change, particularly 
not as part of a security update which system administrators are more or 
less forced to install.

In your specific example, you can achieve the same effect by setting 
PATH to a directory with a customer ls program, or by setting BASH_ENV 
to a file which contains a definition of a function called ls.

Overriding external programs with shell functions in such a way has to 
be supported.  Otherwise, scripts which define shell functions would 
break if the system administrator installs new software which happens to 
include a program of the same name of the shell function.

Florian Weimer / Red Hat Product Security

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