Multiple Firewall Vendor FTP Server Vulnerability

A suitable solution may be to remove handling of PASV ftp. This can be accomplished via the FireWall-1 GUI. In addition, on a properly secured machine with no services other than FTP running, this attack has little impact.

Users running FW-1 3.0 should upgrade immediately.

Checkpoint issued the following statement, available at:

"It has been brought to Check Point's attention that a possible vulnerability exists in the control of PASV (passive) FTP connections through FireWall-1. This was developed in a lab environment and requires a specific set of conditions to have existed, in order to suceed. Check Point has no knowledge of its being used against production environments.

Summary of vulnerability:

FireWall-1's parsing of the FTP control connection was manipulated via MTU such that a FTP server PASV port number, as processed by FireWall-1, was associated with the port number of a service with a known security issue (in this case, ToolTalk port vulnerability on a un-patched Solaris 2.6 system). This enabled the client to exploit the server's vulnerability (i.e., an in.ftpd that returned client-controlled data in an error message and running a possibly unnecessary service: ToolTalk) to gain root access on the machine. This vulnerability was reported to BugTrag on Wednesday, February 9th by John MacDonald of DataProtect.

Minimizing the possible threat:
- Do not enable PASV FTP if not needed.
- Use the FTP Security Server or HTTP security server for PASV FTP connections to internal FTP servers.
- Those running publicly accessible FTP servers should follow good host security practices (e.g., not running additional, possibly unnecessary and vulnerable services, keeping up with OS and/or application patches).
- For those using stateful inspection of passive FTP, the following patch has been supplied.


The patch consists of a new $FWDIR/lib/base.def file that includes a fix to the problem (the file is compatible with Firewall-1 4.0 SP-5, other platforms will be released as soon as possible). The fix involves an enforcement on the existence of the newline character at the end of each packet on the FTP control connection, this will close off the described vulnerability. It should be noted that this may cause connectivity problems (i.e., blocked FTP connections) in the following scenarios:

1. If FTP control messages larger than the MTU (e.g., large
PWD) are exchanged.
2. If some FTP clients/servers does not put newline at the end
of the line.
3. When passing FWZ encrypted traffic through an
intermediate Firewall gateway.

The enforcement can be easily disabled by commenting the following line in the base.def file (or by restoring the original base.def file):

Checkpoint made further information available:
If a FireWall-1 site does inbound PASV FTP access to one or more servers, the following security control options have been made available, in either Service Pack 6 for FireWall-1 4.0 users or Hot Fix 1 for FireWall-1 4.1 Service Pack 1 users:

o FireWall-1 kernel code change that enforces all "227 PASV" replies are bounded by a ()/n.

o Inspect code fix as previously posted in Check Point's original response

o An enhancement to the FTP Security Server that can disallow administrator defined FTP control commands.

The kernel and Inspect code changes are enabled by default in the Service Pack or Hot Fix. Although highly dependent on the local connectivity requirements and implementation, the following general guidelines for inbound FTP using PASV are recommended by Check Point:

o For those customers allowing FTP writes to their server AND the FTP server in use implements the STAT command (i.e., cannot be turned off), it is recommended that inbound FTP traffic to that server(s) be directed through the FTP Security Server with the Security Server configured to disallow STAT commands (the default).

o For those customers allowing FTP reads only, or running writeable FTP servers where the FTP STAT command is disabled: either the kernel/INSPECT options only or in combination with the FTP security server can be used.

Cisco has made patches available to all customers. The details of these fixes are contained in a Cisco advisory listed under 'Credit'. These fixes are available at
Pix 5.1 is not susceptible to this problem.

Check Point Software Firewall-1 4.0


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