OpenSSH Security Advisory: xauth command injection

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OpenSSH Security Advisory: xauth command injection

Damien Miller

OpenSSH Security Advisory: x11fwd.adv

This document may be found at:

1. Affected configurations

        All versions of OpenSSH prior to 7.2p2 with X11Forwarding

2. Vulnerability

        Missing sanitisation of untrusted input allows an
        authenticated user who is able to request X11 forwarding
        to inject commands to xauth(1).

        Injection of xauth commands grants the ability to read
        arbitrary files under the authenticated user's privilege,
        Other xauth commands allow limited information leakage,
        file overwrite, port probing and generally expose xauth(1),
        which was not written with a hostile user in mind, as an
        attack surface.

        xauth(1) is run under the user's privilege, so this
        vulnerability offers no additional access to unrestricted
        accounts, but could circumvent key or account restrictions
        such as sshd_config ForceCommand, authorized_keys
        command="..." or restricted shells.

3. Mitigation

        Set X11Forwarding=no in sshd_config. This is the default.

        For authorized_keys that specify a "command" restriction,
        also set the "restrict" (available in OpenSSH >=7.2) or
        "no-x11-forwarding" restrictions.

4. Details

        As part of establishing an X11 forwarding session, sshd(8)
        accepts an X11 authentication credential from the client.
        This credential is supplied to the xauth(1) utility to
        establish it for X11 applications that the user subsequently

        The contents of the credential's components (authentication
        scheme and credential data) were not sanitised to exclude
        meta-characters such as newlines. An attacker could
        therefore supply a credential that injected commands to
        xauth(1). The attacker could then use a number of xauth
        commands to read or overwrite arbitrary files subject to
        file permissions, connect to local ports or perform attacks
        on xauth(1) itself.

        OpenSSH 7.2p2 implements a whitelist of characters that
        are permitted to appear in X11 authentication credentials.

5. Credit

        This issue was identified by and
        communicated to the OpenSSH developers on March 3rd, 2016.

6. Fix

        Portable OpenSSH 7.2p2 contains a fix for this vulnerability.

        Patches for supported OpenBSD releases (5.7, 5.8 and 5.9) have
        been committed to the -STABLE branches and are available on the
        errata pages: