[ISN] CORE-SDI-04: SSH insertion attack (fwd)

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Jun 11 1998 - 22:36:35 PDT

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    [I know a lot of you will have already seen this, but it is worth
     forwarding considering how many people use ssh these days. - Nick]
                                  CORE SDI S.A.
                              Buenos Aires, Argentina
                               Security Advisory
                                June 11th, 1998
                              SSH insertion attack
      This advisory addresses a vulnerability present in the SSH software
      package that allows an attacker to execute arbitrary commands on the
      SSH server or otherwise subvert an encrypted SSH channel with
      arbitrary data.
    Problem Description
      SSH (Secure Shell) is a program that provides strong authentication and
      secure communications over insecure channels.
      Its widely used for logging in to remote computers, file transfers and
      tunneling of other protocols over the encrypted comunications channel.
      All communications are automatically and transparently encrypted.
      Encryption is also used for integrity checking purposes although
      current implementations rely on a 32 bit Cyclic Redundancy Check
      to perform integrity checks after the decryption of an incoming packet.
      Encryption is done using one of a list of supported algorithms that
      is exchanged between client and server.
      Upon conection establishment client and server perform a protocol
      negotiation that includes mutual authentication, selection
      of a cipher supported by both ends for subsequent communications and
      of a session key to be used with the cipher. Encryption is then
      turned on using the selected cipher and session key, all further
      communications are encrypted.
      Currently supported ciphers are:
      - Blowfish
        Bruce Schneier's block cipher using a 128 bit key
      - IDEA
        A 128 bit block cipher
      - DES
        The Data Encryption Standard 56-bit block cipher
      - Triple DES (3DES)
        A three-key triple-DES algorithm with an effective key lenght
        of 112 bits.
      - ARCFOUR
        An RC4 compatible stream cipher using a 128 bit key
       The use of these algorithms in CBC (Cipher Block Chaining) or
       CFB (Cipher Feedback 64 bits) modes with the CRC-32 integrity check
       allows to perform a known plaintext attack (with as few as
       16 bytes of known plaintext) that permits the insertion of encrypted
       packets with any choosen plaintext in the client to server stream
       that will subvert the integrity checks on the server and decrypt to
       the given plaintext, thus allowing an attacker to execute arbitrary
       commands on the server.
       The attack is equally feasible on the server to client stream ,
       although it just gives the ability to send arbitrary data the
       user's terminal. The implications of such an attack are probably not
       as severe as an attack to the server side of the connection but
       must be taken in consideration in the process of applying fixes.
    Technical details
       After the protocol identification phase, where the server
       sends a plaintext string specifiying its the protocol and software
       versions, all communication is done encapsulating data in a
       packet format described as 'The Binary Packet Protocol' [1]
       The packet layout is as follows:
                  32         24        16         8         0
                   |        data length (bytes)             |
                   |       1 to 8 bytes of padding          |
                   =                                        =
                   |   type   |                             |
                   +----------+                             +
                   |                                        |
                   =                 data                   =
                   |                                        |
                   |                CRC-32                  |
       Data length: Length in bytes of the given packet, not including
                    the length field and padding
       Padding    : 8 - (length mod 8) bytes of random data, putting
                    random data at the beginning of the packet is an
                    effort to make known plaintext attacks more difficult.
       Packet type: An 8-bit unsigned byte.
       Data       : length - 5 data bytes
       CRC-32     : the four 8-bit check bytes, MSB first. The CRC is
                    computed before any encryption
      Encryption is done on the padding+type+data+CRC fields, the length
      field is never encrypted. The encrypted portion of the packet has
      a length that is always a multiple of 8 bytes.
      Knowning certain characteristics of the cipher modes  being used,
      i.e. CBC, with a known plaintext an attacker is able to build a
      custom SSH packet (i.e. a type SSH_CMSG_STDIN_DATA packet) with
      the padding bytes computed in a way such that the next 8-bytes
      of the encrypted data will decrypt to arbitrary plaintext. In
      this particular case, the decrypted data will correspond to the
      type field and 7 data bytes.
      After the 16 bytes (padding+type+7 data bytes) the attacker would
      include a variable length of data bytes specifically crafted to
      produce a valid CRC-32 field for the whole packet once it is
      This attack and several variations using the same technique can
      be performed due to the usage of weak integrity check schemes, in
      particular CRC-32 has certain properties that allows the attacker
      to forge a valid CRC for her corrupted packet.
      However, for the attack to succeed the attacker must be able to
      perform an active network attack, by either intercepting the
      legit SSH connection at any point between the client and server and
      injecting a forged packet or by performing a TCP session hijack attack.
      Such an attack is described in [6] and for SSH the two methods of
      TCP desynchronization can be used. In particular the method described
      as "Null data desynchronization" can be carried out using packets of
      type SSH_CMSG_IGNORE.
      Note that the new revision for the SSH protocol, proposed and
      published as Internet Drafts [2],[3],[4] [5] makes use of
      cryptographycally strong message authentication codes for
      integrity checks that wont fail to these attacks.
      Its is important to mention that despise the vulnerabilities
      found in the SSH protocol, it still remains to be a much more
      secure alternative to telnet, rsh and rlogin applications.
      [1] "The SSH (Secure Shell) Remote Login Protocol", T. Ylonen
           Helsinki University of Technology. November 15th 1995
               (draft expired on May 15th, 1996)
               Included as the file ./RFC in the ssh distribution
      [2] "SSH Protocol Architecture", draft-ietf-secsh-architecture-01.txt.gz
           T. Ylonen, T. Kivinen, M. Saarinen. SSH. November 7th, 1997
      [3] "SSH Connection Protocol", draft-ietf-secsh-connect-03.txt.gz
           T. Ylonen, T. Kivinen, M. Saarinen. SSH. November 7th, 1997
      [4] "SSH Authentication Protocol", draft-ietf-secsh-userauth-03.txt.gz
           T. Ylonen, T. Kivinen, M. Saarinen. SSH. November 7th, 1997
      [5] "SSH Transport Layer Protocol",draft-ietf-secsh-transport-03.txt.gz
           T. Ylonen, T. Kivinen, M. Saarinen. SSH. November 7th, 1997
               (drafts expired on May 7th, 1998)
      All Internet drafts are available at <ftp://ftp.isi.edu/internet-drafts/>
      [6] "Simple Active Attack Against TCP", Laurent Joncheray,
          Merit Networks Inc., 5th USENIX Security Simposium. 1995.
       An attacker with access to the encrypted SSH stream may insert
       encrypted blocks in the stream that will decrypt to
       arbitrary commands to be executed on the SSH server.
    Fix Information:
       Upgrade to the upcoming SSH protocol version 2.
       Commercial F-Secure SSH users contact Data Fellows Inc. for
       information on how to upgrade to F-Secure 2.0
       Notice that version 2 of the SSH protocol is not
       compatible with the previous version, thus you
       will need to upgrade all the SSH clients as well.
       In the meantime, upgrade to version 1.2.25 of SSH, which
       fixes the problem. The SSH 1.2.25 distribution can be
       obtained from:
       F-Secure SSH version 1.3.5 fixes this security problem.
       If you are using the commercial Data Fellows SSH package and you
       have a support contract, you can obtain the 1.3.5 from your local
       Users without a support contract can obtain a patch which fixes
       this problem from:
       A patch for the free SSH 1.2.23 distribution and the complete
       SSH 1.2.23 package, with the patch applied, can be obtained at:
      Below  are the MD5 hashes for the provided files
       MD5 (ssh-1.2.23.patch) = 6bdb63d57f893907191986c5ced557ab
       MD5 (ssh-1.2.23-core.tar.Z) = fffb52122aae26c1f212c051a305a310
       MD5 (ssh-1.2.23-core.tar.gz) = f9509ba0f0715637805c6b116adc0869
    Vulnerable Systems:
       All systems running implementations of SSH using protocol version 1.x
       are vulnerable.
       This includes SSH software versions up to 1.2.23 and F-Secure SSH 1.3.4
       To obtain the version of the SSH server that is running
       on a given host you can issue the following commands:
       $ telnet <IP address> 22
       Trying <IPaddress>...
       Connected to <IPaddress>.
       Escape character is '^]'.
           \ / \--------- software version
            |------------ protocol version
       telnet> close
       Connection closed.
       $ exit
    Additional Information:
       These vulnerabilities were discovered by Ariel Futoransky
       <futo@core-sdi.com> and Emiliano Kargieman <ek@core-sdi.com>
       CORE SDI wishes to thank the SSH maintainers Tatu Ylonen <yloat_private>
       and Tero Kivinen <kivinenat_private> for their quick response to the
       issues rised by this advisory.
       Olli Voima <olli.voimaat_private> of Data Fellows Inc.
       provided the fix information for the F-Secure products.
       Comments and questions regarding this advisory should be sent to:
               Ariel Futoransky <futo@core-sdi.com>
               Emiliano Kargieman <ek@core-sdi.com>
       For more information about CORE SDI S.A.  contact <core@core-sdi.com>
       or visit <http://www.core-sdi.com>
       You can contact CORE SDI S.A. at <corelabs@core-sdi.com> using the
       the following PGP key:
    Type Bits/KeyID    Date       User ID
    pub  1024/CF4E0CF5 1998/05/18 CORELABS <corelabs@core-sdi.com>
    Version: 2.6.3ia
    Comment: Requires PGP version 2.6 or later.
    Copyright Notice:
    The contents of this advisory are Copyright (C) 1998 CORE SDI S.A.,
    and may be distributed freely provided that no fee is charged for
    this distribution, and proper credit is given.
    $Id: ssh-advisory.txt,v 1.8 1998/06/11 22:05:03 iarce Exp $
    ==============================[ CORE Seguridad de la Informacion S.A. ]=======
    Ivan Arce
    Gerencia de Tecnologia                          Email     : ivan@core-sdi.com
    Av. Santa Fe 2861 5to C                         TE        : +54-1-821-1030
    CP 1425                                         FAX       : +54-1-821-1030
    Buenos Aires, Argentina                         Mensajeria: +54-1-317-4157
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