SECURITY.NNOV: directory traversal and path globbing in multiple archivers

Type securityvulns
Reporter Securityvulns
Modified 2001-07-11T00:00:00



Topic: Directory traversal and path globbing in multiple archivers Author: 3APA3A <> Affected Software: GNU tar <= 1.13.19, Info-Zip UnZip <= 5.42, RARSoft rar <= 2.02, PKWare pkzipc <= 4.00 Not affected: rar 2.80, WinZIP 8.0 Risk: low/average Released: July, 2, 2001 SECURITY.NNOV advisories:


Archive extraction is usually treated by users as a safe operation. There are few problems with files extraction though.


Among them: huge files with high compression ratio are able to fill memory/disk (see "Antivirus scanner DoS with zip archives" thread on Vuln-Dev), special device names and special characters in file names, directory traversal (dot-dot bug). Probably, directory traversal is most dangerous among this bugs, because it allows to craft archive which will trojan system on extraction. This problem is known for software developers, and newer archivers usually have some kind of protection. But in some cases this protection is weak and can be bypassed. I did very quick (approx. 30 minutes, so may be I've missed something) researches on few popular archivers. Results are below.

Detailed info:

GNU tar (all platforms):

tar below 1.13.19 including latest releases has no any ".." or absolute path protection. Tar development team was contacted. They replied they're aware of problem and current development version 1.13.19 implements some kind of protection but it doesn't work for most cases due to bug in coding. Exploitation scenario was passed back to development team. I hope it will work then 1.13.19 will be finally released. See attached patch (tar-1.13.19.patch). 1.13.19 sources can be obtained from

Info-Zip's UnZip (all platforms):

all versions have neither .. nor absolute path protection. No reply from vendor. See attached patch (unzip-5.42.patch).

PKWare's PKZip (Windows):

console version was tested. It's vulnerable, if archive is extracted with -rec (recursive) option. If this option is not given archive is extracted without directory structure. All versions up to latest 4.00 are vulnerable. Program is shareware, no sources available. Vendor contacted, still in work. Status of patch unknown.

RARsoft (Eugene Roshal's) RAR (all platforms):

Directory traversal protection was implemented in rar 2.02. This protection can be bypassed. Eugene Roshal was contacted and replied latest version of rar (2.80) is absolutely safe. It's true, but 2.02 is latest available version in most Unix ports (2.80 is available for Windows and Linux, you can use Linux version if your system supports Linux emulation). Program is shareware, no sources available. Status of patch unknown.

WinZip (Windows):

Behavior is close to ideal. Console version doesn't extract files with ".." until special switch is not selected, windowed version warns user on ".." about possible impacts of such extraction.


Exploitation of path globbing and directory traversal under Windows exploitation is trivial. On most unix system to exploit directory traversal you should guess level of directory file will be extracted to. tar and rar are able to create files with permission different from umask, it makes it possible to create executables. Only tar overwrites target files without prompt by default.

Demo archives can be found on


List content of archive before extraction if archive was obtained from untrusted source (but have in mind that name of the file can be with something like ../^H^H^H - do not trust your eyes, use some program). Never automate archive extraction, or use jail if you need automation. Be sure never run extraction from user with elevated privileges.


Wait for vendor patch or use checked archivers or apply attached patches on your own risk.

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