Feeds

Ruby on Fails: Zombie SERVER army built thanks to Rails bug

The undead are coming, and they have 1Gbps pipes!

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A critical vulnerability in trendy web programming kit Ruby on Rails is being abused to conscript hacked website servers into a growing botnet army.

A security bug (CVE-2013-0156) in the open-source application framework was patched in January, but months later many website owners have failed to apply the update, leaving code on numerous sites vulnerable.

Shortcomings in Ruby on Rails' parameter-parsing code allows miscreants to bypass authentication systems, inject and execute arbitrary code, or perform a denial-of-service attack on a Rails application, an advisory by US CERT explains.

The bug can be exploited to force a vulnerable server to download, compile and run some C code that takes control of the machine. Once compromised, the web server becomes a remotely controlled drone in a network of zombie computers, which blindly obey commands issued from afar by crooks in an IRC chatroom. These orders could be to send out spam, pummel a target on the internet in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, or similar.

Martijn Grooten, anti-spam test director at Virus Bulletin, noted that the communications channel used to send instructions to the zombie bots is unencrypted, and therefore open to hijacking by any cyber-crim. Although perhaps basic in its design, the botnet is a powerful resource for various potential forms of cybercrime.

Ruby on Rails is knocked by some security experts - such as Gunter Ollmann, CTO of IOActive - as a development platform that's unfit for production servers. Nonetheless the technology is widely deployed. Those that do use it are advised to update their systems to versions 3.2.11, 3.1.10, 3.0.19 or 2.3.15.

The creation of the Ruby on Rails botnet was first identified by security researcher Jeff Jarmoc of Matasano Security. "This is a pretty straightforward skiddy exploit of a vulnerability that has been publicly known, and warned about, for months," Jarmoc concluded in a post on his personal blog.

Cybercrooks are increasingly looking towards exploiting vulnerable software on web servers, rather than less powerful client PCs, in order to create stronger zombie networks. For example, compromised WordPress installations have recently been abused to create a botnet linked to recent DDoS attacks. Web servers invariably have much higher capacity internet connections than home PCs, making them eminently suitable as a platform for overloading targeted websites with junk traffic. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.