More tricks than treats with today’s Metasploit blog disclosures?

Today, Tod Beardsley posted part one and part two on the Metasploit blogs titled “Seven FOSS Tricks and Treats. Unfortunately, this blog comes with as many tricks as it does treats.

In part one, he gently berates the vendors for their poor handling of the issues. In many cases, they are labeled as “won’t fix” without an explanation of why. During his berating, he also says “I won’t mention which project … filed the issue on a public bug tracker which promptly e-mailed it back in cleartext“. In part two, the only disclosure timeline including a bug report is for Moodle and ticket MDL-41449. If this is the case he refers to, then he should have noted that the tracker requires an account, and that a new account / regular user cannot access this report. Since his report was apparently mailed in the clear, the ticket system mailing it back is not the biggest concern. If this is not the ticket he refers to, now that the issues are public the ticket should be included in the disclosure for completeness.

Next, we have the issue of “won’t fix”. Zabbix, NAS4Free, and arguably OpenMediaVault are all intended functionality by the vendor. In each case, they require administrative credentials to use the function being ‘exploited’ by the metasploit modules. I won’t argue that additional circumstances make exploitation easier, such as XSS or default credentials, but intended functionality is often a reason a vendor will not “fix” the bug. As you say in part one, a vendor should make this type of functionality very clear as to the dangers involved. Further, they should strive to avoid making it easier to exploit. This means quickly fixing vulnerabilities that may disclose session information (e.g. XSS), and not shipping with default credentials. Only at the bottom of the first post do you concede that they are design decisions. Like you, we agree that admin of a web interface does not imply the person was intended to have root access on the underlying operating system. In those cases, we consider them a vulnerability but flag them ‘concern’ and include a technical note explaining.

One of the most discouraging things about these vulnerability reports is the lack of version numbers. It is clear that Beardsley downloaded the software to test it. Why not include the tested version so that administrators can more easily determine if they may be affected? For example, if we assume that the latest version of Moodle was 2.5.2 when he tested, it is likely vulnerable. This matters because version 2.3.9 does not appear to be vulnerable as it uses an alternate spell check method. This kind of detail is extremely helpful to the people who have to mitigate the vulnerability, and the type of people who use vulnerability databases as much as penetration testers.

Finally, the CVE assignments are questionable. Unfortunately, MITRE does not publish the “CVE ID Reservation Guidelines for Researchers” on their CVE Request Page, instead offering to mail it. This may cut down on improper assignments and may explain why these CVE were assigned. When an application has intended functionality that can only be abused by an attacker with administrator credentials, that does not meet the criteria for a CVE assignment. Discussion with CVE over each case would help to ensure assignment is proper (see above re: implied permission / access).

As always, we love seeing new vulnerabilities disclosed and quickly fixed. However, we also prefer to have disclosures that fully explain the issue and give actionable information to all parties involved, not just one side (e.g. penetration testers). Keep up the good work and kindly consider our feedback on future disclosures!

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