Feeds

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

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

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.