Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CVE-2010-1871: JBoss Seam Framework remote code execution

Update Mon Aug 2 2010: Turned out JBoss didn't release fix for the community version at, though fix has been committed to the svn.
Update Mon Aug 11 2010: 2.2.1CR2 is released fixing this vulnerability.

Here's interesting bug I found in JBoss Seam Framework, which led to remote code execution using JBoss EL expressions. Having any sort of custom expression language in a web framework is always a sign of potential vulnerabilities (see CVE-2010-1870 for another example of expression language vulnerability), since framework developers will try to add support for that expression language to various components, and some of those components may in turn handle user-controlled inputs without developers realizing it.

JBoss EL
JBoss expression language provides all the normal features you'd expect:
  • Method calling:  #{hotelBooking.bookHotel(hotel)}
  • Property retrieval: #{}
  • Projection (iteration): #{company.departments.{d|}}
Variables referenced (e.g. hotelBookingpersoncompany) are resolved using various EL resolvers(extend javax.el.ELResolver), such as com.sun.faces.el.ImplicitObjectELResolver (use 'guest' username to view) or SeamELResolver. These resolvers let you reference server-side session object and it's attributes, request attributes and parameters in your JBoss EL statements. Once base object is resolved you can call arbitrary methods on that object. All JBoss EL statements are expected to come from the application's developer and not user, since it's possible to reach any other class and it's methods using java.lang.Class and reflection API. For example, we can obtain reference to the class representing java.lang.Runtime as follows (expressions is one of the base objects available by default, but any other object will do, e.g. request):


to get all of it's methods:


to invoke 19th method in the array returned by getDeclaredMethods():


JBoss EL does all the magic behind the scenes. If the method you are invoking isn't static, in which case you can simply pass null, you'll have to provide an instance of the class to invoke the method on to the invoke() call. you can use exactly the same approach, lets say we'd like to invoke 19th method on an an instance of java.lang.Runtime which is returned by a static method at index 7:


CVE-2010-1871: actionOutcome is remote code execution

After stepping through the sample booking app, I've come across org.jboss.seam.navigation.Pages.callAction() which takes value of the actionOutcome HTTP parameter and eventually passes it to JSF NavigationHandler's handleNavigation method (use 'guest' username with empty password to view). SeamNavigationHandler is Seam's implementation of JSF NavigationHandler and looking at its handleNavigation() you can see that if action outcome starts with / (checked by isOutcomeViewId() method) then it's passed to FacesManager.instance().interpolateAndRedirect() method which interpolates (executes) all JBoss EL expressions in actionOutcome URL's HTTP parameter values using Interpolator. Once all JBoss EL expressions have been interpolated user is redirected to the URL with expressions output in corresponding HTTP parameters. So to exploit this vulnerability attacker needs to supply actionOutcome that starts with / and has encoded JBoss EL statements in HTTP parameters values, example on seam-booking sample application:


browser will be redirected to:


in the request above we tell Seam that outcome of the action is at /pwn?pwned=#{expressions.getClass.forName('java.lang.Runtime')} and so it redirected us to /pwn.seam?pwned=<output of java.lang.Runtime class' toString() method>. And since attacker is able to see the output of her JBoss EL statements she is able to find out which methods of a particular class are at which array index. 

To execute arbitrary OS commands attacker needs to find indexes of the following 2 methods of the java.lang.Runtime() class in the array returned by the getDeclaredMethods() method:
1) public java.lang.Process java.lang.Runtime.exec(java.lang.String) throws
2) public static java.lang.Runtime java.lang.Runtime.getRuntime()

On my OS X, first method is at index 19 and second is at 7:




Other operating systems and JRE versions will have those methods at different indexes, using the above trick you can find out the indexes in the application you are testing yourself (there are around 24 methods in total).

Final PoC will look as follows:

untime').getDeclaredMethods()[7].invoke(null), 'mkdir /tmp/PWNED')}

upon successful exploitation you'll be redirected to the URL below and /tmp/PWNED directory will be created:


the value of pwned parameter represent value returned by successful java.lang.Runtime.exec() call.

July 19 - initial report.
July 22 - fix committed. Developers blacklisted # and { characters in actionOutcome.
July 27 - JBoss Seam team releases the fix for JBoss Enterprise Application Platform only. Note, however, that vulnerability has nothing to do with authentication as RedHat/JBoss team states, it's the problem in the framework and following steps above you will see that.


  1. The remote execution can happen in almost the same manner on actionMethod parameter.
    The only difference is that one needs to use an existing application view.
    Like for example in the case of seam-booking:

    /seam-booking/register.seam?actionMethod=/home.xhtml%3Aexpressions.getClass .....

    This will be harder to fix since blacklisting # and { will disable legitimate code executions like hotelBooking.selectHotel

  2. Did you reproduced the remote execution with actionMethod parameter or you are only guessing this?

    actionMethod expressions are checked in source. Could you explain that more deeper?

  3. i haven't had time to try, but let me know if you did and how it went.

  4. I tried "/seam-booking/home.seam?actionOutcome=/pwn.xhtml?pwned%3d%23{expressions.getClass().forName('java.lang.Runtime').getDeclaredMethods()[19].invoke(expressions.getClass().forName('java.lang.Runtime').getDeclaredMethods()[7].invoke(null), 'mkdir /tmp/PWNED')}", but got the error message: "HTTP Status 404 - /seam-booking/pwn.seam".

    would you please give me some point about how to reproduce the poc?