Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in the Pubcookie login server could allow a remote attacker to gain access to sensitive information.
Pubcookie is a software package that provides intra-institutional single-sign-on authentication for end-users over the web. The Pubcookie development team has discovered several cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in the Pubcookie login server's compiled binary "
index.cgi" CGI program. Because of flaws in the way the CGI program handles untrusted user-supplied data when printing responses to the browser, an attacker may be able to supply crafted requests containing script or HTML. By luring an unsuspecting user to view the staged content, an attacker can redirect the user to a vulnerable Pubcookie login page and gain access to sensitive information.
An attacker with the ability to inject malicious script may be able to steal sensitive user data including a user's authentication credentials (usernames and passwords), private Pubcookie data including a user's authentication assertion ("granting") cookies, and single sign-on (SSO or "login") session cookies. An attacker injecting HTML tags using the vulnerability may also be able to deface a site's Pubcookie login page for a single instance (viewing) of the page.
The Pubcookie project has released versions 3.3.0a (current production release; Unix and Windows) and 3.2.1b (Unix-only patch release) that contains fixes for this vulnerability.
These releases are available from the project's downloads page. Users running an affected version of the software are encouraged to upgrade to one of the patch releases listed above.
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Updated: March 21, 2006
`Subject: XSS Vulnerability in Pubcookie Login Server
Author: Nathan Dors, Pubcookie Project
Status: Confirmed, Patches Released
Threat Class: Cross-Site Scripting
Issue date: March 6, 2006
New releases of Pubcookie are available to address Cross-Site Scripting
(XSS) vulnerabilities found in the Pubcookie login server.
Sites running a Pubcookie login server are strongly advised to read this
security advisory and carry out the suggested actions below.
Note: The URL for this security advisory is:
XSS vulnerabilities typically involve three principals: a vulnerable Web
site, an attacker, and an end-user. The attacker exploits the
vulnerability in the Web site such that script written by the attacker
is run by the user within the security context of the Web site.
XSS vulnerabilities can be classified as persistent or non-persistent,
depending on whether or not the script or HTML injected by the attacker
persists on the vulnerable Web site.
A persistent XSS vulerability allows the attacker to leave script or
HTML on the vulnerable Web site where it has the potential of being run
by multiple users without further involvement by the attacker. Blogs and
message boards are example places where persistent XSS vulnerabilities
are often exploited.
A non-persistent XSS vulnerability, on the other hand, doesn't allow the
attacker to stage script or HTML on the vulnerable Web site. Instead, he
or she must stage it elsewhere and then orchestrate some other means of
initiating the attack, very often requiring the user's unintentional
cooperation. Email, chat messages, and web pages are example places
where script might be staged to help exploit a non-persistent XSS
vulnerability. The user might trigger the attack simply by opening a
tainted message or Web page, or by clicking inadvertently on a tainted
Multiple non-persistent XSS vulnerabilities were found in the Pubcookie
login server's compiled binary "index.cgi" CGI program. The CGI program
mishandles untrusted data when printing responses to the browser. This
makes the program vulnerable to carefully crafted requests containing
script or HTML. If an attacker can lure an unsuspecting user to visit
carefully staged content, the attacker can use it to redirect the user
to his or her local Pubcookie login page and attempt to exploit the XSS
These vulnerabilities are classified as critical due to the nature and
purpose of the Pubcookie login server for user authentication and Web
Single Sign-on (SSO). Specific threats include:
*) An attacker who injects malicious script through the vulnerabilities
might steal senstive user data including a user's authentication
credentials (usernames and passwords);
*) An attacker who injects malicious script through the vulnerabilities
might steal private Pubcookie data including a user's authentication
assertion ("granting") cookies and SSO ("login") session cookies;
*) An attacker who injects HTML tags through the vulnerabilities might
deface a site's Pubcookie login page for a single visit by a single user
(i.e. a non-persistent defacement).
At the heart of these threats lies a violation of the user's trust in
the Pubcookie login server.
This advisory applies to all versions of the Pubcookie login server's
"index.cgi" compiled binary CGI program.
The following releases (including beta and final releases) are known to
be affected: 3.0.0, 3.1.0, 3.1.1, 3.2.0, 3.2.1, 3.2.1a and 3.3.0.
The following patch releases address all known XSS vulnerabilities:
3.3.0a (current production release)
These releases are available now from the project's dowloads page:
Patch files are also available for versions 3.3.0 and 3.2.1a from:
Patch file names are:
Note: the login server security patch files include source code fixes
for the login server's "index.cgi" compiled binary CGI program and for
several accompanying HTML template files.
All sites running a Pubcookie login server are strongly advised to
pursue the following course of action:
1) Sites using a 3.0 or 3.1 login server should upgrade to one of the
current patch releases. Version 3.3.0a (current production release) is
2) Sites using a 3.2 login server should, at minimum, upgrade to the
patched 3.2.1b release. Sites should also consider upgrading to 3.3.0a.
3) Sites using a 3.3 login server should upgrade to the patched 3.3.0a
4) Sites using locally modified versions of the login server should
apply and integrate the login server security patch that most closely
matches the local version.
Note: For detailed version compatibility notes and upgrade information,
consult the relevant Pubcookie login server administration guide online.
The Pubcookie project wishes to thank Ben Maurer of Carnegie Mellon
University for reporting the original XSS vulnerability and for advising
during the fixes.
The Pubcookie project also wishes to thank the following sites for their
participation in the security response: University of Wisconsin-Madison,
Carnegie Mellon University, Stockholm University, University of
Virigina, University of Washington.
Web Security Threat Classification
CERT Advisory CA-2000-02 Malicious HTML Tags Embedded in Client Web
Phishing With Super Bait
XSS (Cross Site Scripting) Cheat Sheet
The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.
Group | Score | Vector
Base | |
Temporal | |
Environmental | |
Thanks to Nathan Dors of the University of Washington Pubcookie project for reporting this vulnerability. Nathan, in turn, credits Ben Maurer of Carnegie Mellon University with reporting the initial vulnerability.
This document was written by Chad R Dougherty based on information supplied by the reporter.
CVE IDs: | CVE-2006-1392
Severity Metric: | 11.12
Date Public: | 2006-03-06
Date First Published: | 2006-03-24
Date Last Updated: | 2006-03-24 03:11 UTC
Document Revision: | 24