Mitigating New Gadget Leveraging JNDI Injection into Remote Code Execution Using Advanced WAF

Recently a new gadget that bypass existing Java restrictions for JNDI injection was published via Tweet made by a security researcher identified by the twitter handle @PewGrand.

JNDI – Java Naming and Directory Interface is a Java API that allows the application developer to retrieve objects based on a given name. JNDI supports different implementations like Remote Method Invocation (RMI), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and others.

The JNDI Injection vulnerability class was first presented in Black Hat 2016 by Alvaro Munoz and Oleksandr Mirosh who demonstrated the different ways where applications utilizing JNDI can be exploited into Remote Code Execution.

Applications are vulnerable to JNDI Injections when user-controlled input is being passed as argument to methods like “lookup” of the “InitialContext” Java class, which is part of the Java Naming API. This method is responsible for resolving a name it received into an object identified by the supplied name.

Figure 1: Example of vulnerable endpoint in a Spring application

The name that the “lookup” method receives can also be in the form of LDAP or RMI URLs and therefore vulnerable applications may be forced to fetch a malicious object from attacker controlled RMI or LDAP server.

In the last few years Oracle has applied several restrictions that aimed to prevent attackers from exploiting JNDI Injection vulnerabilities. One example of such restriction is the “trustURLCodebase” property which was introduced in Java Development Kit 8 – Update 121. This property prevents vulnerable applications from loading malicious objects from remote RMI repositories. Later, similar restriction was added also to cover LDAP repositories.

Since those restrictions were added, exploiting JNDI Injection vulnerabilities now depends on existing gadgets, which means the classes used in the exploit must reside in the vulnerable application class path for the exploit to work.

The new gadget discovered by @PewGrand uses similar approach as another previously disclosed gadget. They both start a rogue LDAP server that hosts an LDAP entry which specifies the “javaClassName” and “javaSerializedData” attributes. Those attributes can be used by Java LDAP implementations to reference Java objects in LDAP entries.

Once the vulnerable application will fetch this entry from the attacker-controlled LDAP server the object referenced by the “javaSerializedData” attribute will be deserialized.

Another point of similarity to the previously disclosed gadget is that both gadgets specify the BeanFactory class of Apache Tomcat as the object factory of the serialized object stored in the LDAP entry. The factory class is responsible for creating an instance of the class specified in the LDAP entry. 

The reason that the BeanFactory is a good pick for both gadgets is because it allows the rogue LDAP server to also specify a method that receives a string as a parameter which should be invoked after creating the instance from the specified class. This is achieved by specifying the “forceString” JNDI Reference.

This is also where the difference between the two gadgets relies - the previous gadget was pointing to the “ELProcessor” class and specified the “eval” method as the “forceString” JNDI Reference, which allowed the gadget to execute arbitrary Java EL Expression template and thus achieve arbitrary code execution.

Figure 2: Previous gadget creating instance of the ELProcessor class and invoking its “eval” method.

 The newly discovered gadget specifies the SnakeYAML Yaml class as the one that should be instantiated by Tomcat BeanFactory, and specifies the “load” method of the Yaml class in order to make the application parse a Yaml that loads JAR file from a remote server by using the Java URLClassLoader.

Figure 3: New gadget creating instance of the SnakeYaml Yaml class and invoking the load method.

Figure 4: Exploiting the vulnerable application using the new gadget.

Mitigating JNDI Injections with Advanced WAF

Advanced WAF customers under any supported version are now protected against this vulnerability. The exploitation attempt will be detected by newly released Java code injection attack signatures which can be found in signature sets that include the “Server Side Code Injection” attack type.

Figure 5: Exploit attempt blocked by signature id 200104722.

Additional resources

Published Apr 14, 2021
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