Mac OS X - Apache & Case Insensitive Filesystems

Type securityvulns
Reporter Securityvulns
Modified 2001-06-13T00:00:00



Mac OS X 10.0.3 / Darwin 1.3.3 Apache 1.3.14

This is the the default setup, out of the box, with available software updates installed. Please note, this is OS X Client.

Who is affected:

Everybody who used Apache on Mac OS X Client with the following conditions:

+ Documents are on a HFS+ volume
+ Directory protection is used


The preferred filesystem for Mac OS X is Apple's HFS+ and most setups use it. HFS+ is a case insensitive filesystem.

Apache's directory protection (and other methods that depend on filesystem object names) cannot handle this and breaks. For example, both Directory and Location configuration options break.

This is a real security risk because most people do not know this. It can easily be used to bypass protected directories.


Consider the following file:


And the following configuration:

<Location /test>
  Order deny,allow
  Deny from all

Or, using a Directory option:

<Directory /Library/WebServer/Documents/test>
  Order deny,allow
  Deny from all

The following request will result in a 403 Forbidden as excpected:

GET /test/index.html

But the following request will happily serve the file:

GET /TeSt/index.html


Using UFS solves this problem because it is case sensitive and it behaves as expected.

Also, Mac OS X Server ships with a Apache module that solves this problem. However, the module is only available as part of OS X Server, and not available as source or part of the Apache distribution.

Preferred solution:

Modification to Apache so that it does a check for the 'real' filename. This probably needs some support from the underlying operating system.

Or Apple should submit their HFS+ patches to the Apache Software Foundation or install the module on OS X Client.