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Ruby flaws send security researchers into shock

Patch to stay on the Rails

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Developers have patched five vulnerabilities in the open-source programming language Ruby that could provide a trivial way for attackers to exploit a variety of web applications.

The vulnerabilities affect versions 1.8 and 1.9 and could lead to remote execution of malicious code or denial of service, this advisory warns. The vulnerabilities promptly got the attention of many in the security profession because Ruby forms the foundation of Ruby on Rails, a popular website creation suite. Researchers at security firm Matasano were among the alarmed.

"Several of us at Matasano felt a chill up our spine seeing this news today," Matasano researcher Eric Monti wrote on his firm's blog. "If you do any serious work with Ruby, you probably should have too."

Monti went on to say that the "vulnerabilities are likely to crop up in just about any average Ruby web application. And by 'crop up' I mean 'crop up exploitable from trivial user-specified parameters.'"

There's been a fair amount of confusion about exactly which patches should be applied for different Ruby versions, so Matasano is advising application developers carefully consider their options before installing.

"It's kind of a mess right now," Thomas Ptacek, another Matasano researcher said in an interview. "This is one of those cases where it might not be crazy to wait a couple days or a week for things to settle."

The flaws were discovered by Drew Yao of Apple Product Security. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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