Apache Subversion Remote Command Execution Vulnerability(CVE-2017-9800)

ID SSV:96344
Type seebug
Reporter Root
Modified 2017-08-16T00:00:00


Arbitrary code execution on clients through malicious svn+ssh URLs in svn:externals and svn:sync-from-url



A Subversion client sometimes connects to URLs provided by the repository. This happens in two primary cases: during 'checkout', 'export', 'update', and 'switch', when the tree being downloaded contains svn:externals properties; and when using 'svnsync sync' with one URL argument.

A maliciously constructed svn+ssh:// URL would cause Subversion clients to run an arbitrary shell command. Such a URL could be generated by a malicious server, by a malicious user committing to a honest server (to attack another user of that server's repositories), or by a proxy server.

The vulnerability affects all clients, including those that use file://, http://, and plain (untunneled) svn://.

An exploit has been tested.

Known vulnerable:


Subversion clients 1.0.0 through 1.8.18 (inclusive) Subversion clients 1.9.0 through 1.9.6 (inclusive) Subversion client 1.10.0-alpha3

Subversion 1.10.0-alpha1 and 1.10.0-alpha2 are vulnerable, however, were never publicly released.

Known fixed:


Subversion 1.8.19 Subversion 1.9.7

Patches are available for 1.9, 1.8, 1.6. The patch for 1.9 applies to 1.10.0-alpha3 with an offset. The patch for 1.8 applies to 1.7 with an offset.

Clients that do not have access to an ssh client, and have no custom tunnels configured in their runtime configuration area [1], are not vulnerable.

Clients using Subversion's own runtime module loading for Repository Access (RA) modules are not vulnerable if the 'libsvn_ra_svn' module, which provides support for the svn+ssh:// and svn:// protocols is removed.

[1] http://svnbook.red-bean.com/en/1.7/svn.advanced.confarea.html#svn.advanced.confarea.layout This link describes Subversion 1.7, but the description is correct for all other versions as well.



(see "Summary:" above)



CVSSv3 Base Score: 9.9 (Critical) CVSSv3 Base Vector: CVSS:3.0/AV:N/AC:L/PR:L/UI:N/S:C/C:H/I:H/A:H/E:H/RL:O/RC:C

A successful exploit will run an arbitrary shell command with the privileges of the Subversion client.



Several alternative ways to fix the issue are available. Any one of 1, 2, 3, and 4 fixes the issue completely. There is no need to implement more than one of these four options.

  1. We recommend all users to upgrade to Subversion 1.9.7 or 1.8.19. New Subversion source and binary packages can be found at: https://subversion.apache.org/download https://subversion.apache.org/packages

  2. Users of Subversion 1.8.x and 1.9.x who are unable to upgrade may apply the included patch.

  3. Clients that are not able to execute the 'ssh' command are not vulnerable. Note, however, that the name of the command may be changed by setting the $SVN_SSH environment variable or by setting a value for the 'ssh' key in the "[tunnels]" section of the file "config" in the runtime configuration area [1]. Moreover, the "[tunnels]" section may define additional tunnels; those may be vulnerable if they do not perform input validation on their first argument, which contains the hostname to connect to.

By default, only the "ssh" tunnel is available. It is available even if it is commented out in the file "config". The default definition of the "ssh" tunnel is equivalent to: ssh = $SVN_SSH ssh -q If that line is not commented out and not set to the default, audit that line as explained below for additional/custom tunnels. If that line is commented out or set to the default, two different fixes are available: either uncomment that line and change the setting to ssh = $SVN_SSH ssh -q -- or set the environment variable "SVN_SSH" to the value "ssh -q --".

Custom tunnels are invoked with three arguments: the hostname to connect to, the string "svnserve" and the string "-t". It is recommended that custom tunnel definitions be audited for correct handling of unusual or invalid host values; the Subversion libraries perform some basic validation, but cannot guarantee correct quoting/escaping of the parameters to arbitrary third-party tunnel commands.

  1. Clients built to use Subversion's own runtime mechanism for loading modules can remove the libsvn_ra_svn shared module and thus remove the threat. The svn:// and svn+ssh:// protocols will no longer be available. This does not apply to clients built to use the normal compile-time linking of shared libraries: those clients will fail to start if the libsvn_ra_svn shared module is removed. Subversion's own runtime loading mechanism is enabled at build-time by using --enable-runtime-module-search.

  2. Users of 'svnsync sync' should use the two-URL-arguments form of the command. The current remote URL may be found by either of these two commands: svnsync info -- $DEST_URL svn proplist --verbose --revision=0 -- $DEST_URL where $DEST_URL is the (first, or only) URL argument to 'svnsync sync'. Then, change the svnsync invocation to always pass that URL as an additional argument: change svnsync sync URL/to/sync to svnsync sync URL/to/sync URL/to/source NOTE: This recommendation applies only to 'svnsync sync' and does not fix the 'checkout' / 'update' part of the issue.

  3. Server administrators may wish to install a 'pre-commit' hook that rejects commits that add invalid svn+*:// URLs, in order to protect their users from other (malicious) users committing such URLs. An example hook is available at: <https://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/subversion/trunk/tools/hook-scripts/CVE-2017-9800-pre-commit.py>

  4. API consumers that implement a 'svn_ra_open_tunnel_func_t open_tunnel_func' callback should audit it for issues similar to this one.

  5. Subversion 1.7 and 1.6 are officially no longer supported. The patch for 1.8 will apply to 1.7 and a patch for 1.6 is available, the patch for 1.6 could be adapted to even older versions. Since 1.7 and 1.6 are no longer supported there will be no official releases of those branches for this vulnerablity.

[1] http://svnbook.red-bean.com/en/1.7/svn.advanced.confarea.html#svn.advanced.confarea.layout This link describes Subversion 1.7, but the description is correct for all other versions as well.