[c-lightning] Security issue in c-lightning

Claude Zou claude.zou.work at gmail.com
Tue Jun 9 00:33:23 AEST 2020


I found a bug in c-lightning which allows a local user to leak
near-arbitrary memory through the JSON RPC, which, in the case that the
socket is configured to be globally accessible, could allow an attacker to
leak sensitive information.

The bug lies in the iterator for JSON objects
The code assumes that every key in the json has a corresponding value (that
is, every key has a size field >= 1). Now, for valid JSONs, this is clearly
true. However, the JSON library used in c-lightning, jsmn, doesn't seem to
enforce this, even in strict mode. For example, if jsmn is passed the
string '{""""}', it will return a jsmn_tok list that essentially says the
JSON has two keys, "" and "", each of size 0 (and thus no corresponding
value). While it could be argued that the bug lies with jsmn, similar
parsing issues <https://github.com/zserge/jsmn/issues/158> have
<https://github.com/zserge/jsmn/issues/131> been
<https://github.com/zserge/jsmn/issues/117> mentioned
<https://github.com/zserge/jsmn/issues/52> before on their repo but have
yet to be fixed despite a rather long time since discovery.

Then, when json_for_each_obj is passed the jsmn_tok array, it sees that the
JSON object has size 2 (as it has 2 keys), so it iterates over it twice.
But in the first iteration, it will already pass over the two valid
jsmn_tok values because the size of the key is assumed to be greater than
0. As a result, the next iteration will be out of bounds.

An attacker can manipulate the heap using previous JSON commands to forge
jsmn_tok structs. By controlling the start and end values of the token, the
attacker can leak arbitrary data relative to the buffer storing the JSON
string through error messages

To replicate this bug, one simply has to pass a JSON such as '{""""}' to
the JSON RPC of c-lightning. During my testing, the heap layout was rather
inconsistent, so it's probably more reliable to send a JSON with more
double quotes such as '{""""""""""""""""""""}' to get a proper segfault (if
that doesn't work, keep adding an even number of double quotes).

To fix this, a simple check in the iterator to make sure the size of a
jsmn_tok is greater than 0 is likely sufficient to prevent any memory

I hope this was helpful and that the issue gets resolved soon!

Claude Zou
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