unix mailbox parsing trouble in qpopper

Type securityvulns
Reporter Securityvulns
Modified 2000-04-12T00:00:00


Topic: unix mailbox parsing trouble in qpopper

Software affected: qpopper 3.0 fc2 and probably others

Description: malicious user can remotely post message with spoofed or incorrect headers (including "Received:" one) and in some cases bypass virus checking. This can be used for sending trojans or to attack vulnerabilities in MUA.


In unix systems e-mail delivered to user is usually stored in his mailbox, which has predefined format (so-called "unix mailbox" or "berkley mailbox"). This mailbox holds messages in plain format separated by empty line ("\n") and specially formed "From " header. The pattern of the next message in mailbox is "\n\nForm ". Then local mail programs (f.e. mail.local) delivers message to user's mailbox it searches for this pattern and if message contains one "From " will be commented out by '>' and additional '\n' will be added to message if necessary. This assumes mailbox integrity and protects from e-mail spoofing.

Problem description:

qpopper has vulnerability which allows for malicious user to generate his own "From " with followed email headers and text. The problem is in the way qpopper reads data from mailbox. Qpopper users fgets()-like routine, mfgets(), which reads data from mailbox into the fixed 1024 byte buffer and returns string in case either '\n' character received or 1023 bytes read. Malicious user can put text like

AAAA...AAA(string of 1023 symbols)\n From user Wed Dec 2 05:53 -0700 1992

In this case mfgets() will return 3 strings: "AAAA...AAA(string of 1023)symbols", "\n", "From user Wed Dec 2 05:53 -0700 1992" and this will be recognized as a beginning of the new message in the mailbox.

Text after "From " string will be recognized as a headers and text of the next message, allowing to generate any headers and text. Additionally, this "internal" messages will be treated by any software as a plain text inside message, without any MIME attachments. This allows to bypass virus checking in case antiviral tools scans only attached files.

Additional Info: mail.local also uses fgets() for reading input message, but default buffer size is 2048, so "From " will not be commented.

http://www.security.nnov.ru /\_/\ { . . } |\ +--oQQo->{ ^ }<-----+ \ | 3APA3A U 3APA3A } +-------------o66o--+ / |/ You know my name - look up my number (The Beatles)