Feeds

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

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Brit celebs' homes VANISH from Google's Street View
Tony Blair's digs now a Tone-y Blur
Snowden leaks latest: NSA, FBI g-men spied on Muslim-American chiefs
US Navy veteran? Lawmaker? Academic? You're all POTENTIAL TERRORISTS
LibreSSL crypto library leaps from OpenBSD to Linux, OS X, more
First cross-platform version of cleaned-up OpenSSL fork
UK's emergency data slurp: IT giants panicked over 'legal uncertainty'
PM says rushed-through DRIP law will 'plug holes' in existing legislation
Russian MP fears US Secret Service cuffed his son for Snowden swap
Seleznev Jnr is 'prolific trafficker in stolen credit card data', it is alleged
Teensy card skimmers found in gullets of ATMs
Hi-tech fraudsters treading more softly, but gas still yielding bang for buck
Weaponised Flash flaw can pinch just about anything from anywhere
This is a 'patch now or regret it sooner-rather-than-later' mess for you and webmasters
Victim of Tor-hidden revenge smut site sues Tor Project developers
But EFF lawyer says deep-web team 'no more liable' than web server makers
App permissions? Pah! Rogue Android soft can 'place phone calls at will'
Bugs found in most 'droid versions render security controls useless – new claim
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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization
Virtualization continues to be one of the most effective ways to consolidate, reduce cost, and make data centers more efficient.
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.