Posts Tagged ‘passthru’

PHP: Better Webhosting Security – Disable exec(), exec_shell(), system(), popen(), eval() … shell fork functions

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Reading Time: 3minutes

increase php security better php security by disabling fork shell system and eval functions

If you work as System Administrator of WebHosting company, you definitely know how often it is that some automated cracker scripts (working as worms) intrude through buggy old crappy custom coded sites or unupdated obsolete Joomla / WordPress etc. installs. and run themselves trying to harvest for other vulnerable hosts. By default PHP enables running commands via shell with PHP functions like exec();, shell_exec(); , system();. and those script kiddie scripts use mainly this functions to spawn shell via vulnerable PHP app. Then scripts use whether php curl support is installed (i.e. php5-curl) to download and replicate itself to next vulnerable hop.

With that said it is a must after installing new Linux based server for hosting to disable this functions, to save yourself from future hassles …
Earlier, I blogged how to disable PHP system system(); and exec(); functions to raise Apache security using suhosin however this method requires php suhosin being used.

Yesterday, I had to configure new web hosting server with Debian 7, so I tried installing suhosin to use it to protect PHP from having enabled dangerous system();, eval(); exec(); .
I remember disabling system(); using suhosin php extension was working fine on older Debian releases, however in Debian 6.0, php5-suhosin package was causing severe Apache crashes and probably that's why in latest Debian Wheezy 7.0, php suhosin extension is no longer available. Therefore using suhosin method to disable system();, exec(); and other fork functions is no longer possible in Debian.

Since, suhosin is no longer there, I decided to use conventional PHP method via php.ini.

Here is how to do it



debian:~# vim /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini
And near end of file placed:

disable_functions =exec,passthru,shell_exec,system,proc_open,
popen,curl_exec, curl_multi_exec,parse_ini_file,show_source

allow_url_fopen Off
allow_url_include Off

It is good to explain few of above functions – shell_exec, proc_open, popen, allow_url_fopen, show_source  and allow_url_include.

Disabling shell_exec – disables from PHP scripts executing commands with bash slash ` `, i.e. `ls`. proc_open and popen allows reading files from file system.

show_source – makes possible also reading other PHP source files or can be used to display content of other files from fs.

To read newly placed config vars in php.iniusual apache restart is necessary:

debian:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
[….] Restarting web server: apache2
. ok

Further on tо test whether system();, exec();, passthru(); … etc. are disabled. Make new PHP file with content:

$disabled_functions = ini_get('disable_functions');
if ($disabled_functions!='')
    $arr = explode(',', $disabled_functions);
    echo 'Disabled Functions:
    for ($i=0; $i<count($arr); $i++)
        echo $i.' - '.$arr[$i].'<br />';
    echo 'No functions disabled';

php show disabled functions screenshot improve php security by disabling shell spawn functions

Copy of above source code show_disabled_php_functions.php is here for download
. To test your Apache PHP configuration disabled functions download it with wget or curl and rename it to .php:

# cd /var/www # wget -q
mv show_disabled_php_functions.php.txt show_disabled_php_functions.php

After disabling functions on those newly setup Debian hosting Apache webserver, I remembered, same functions were still active on another CentOS Linux server.

To disable it there as well, had to edit:


[root@centos:~]# vim /etc/php.ini

And again place after last file line;

disable_functions =exec,passthru,shell_exec,system,proc_open,popen,
curl_exec, curl_multi_exec,parse_ini_file,show_source

allow_url_fopen Off
allow_url_include Off

Finally on CentOS host, had to restart Apache:

[root@centos:~]# /etc/init.d/httpd restart

For Security paranoids, there are plenty of other PHP functions to disable including, basic functions like ln, mv, mkdir, cp, cat etc.

Below is list of all functions to disable – only disable this whether you you're a PHP security freak and you're 100% some server hosted website will not use it:

disable_functions = "ln, cat, popen, pclose, posix_getpwuid, posix_getgrgid, posix_kill, parse_perms, system, dl, passthru, exec, shell_exec, popen, proc_close, proc_get_status, proc_nice, proc_open, escapeshellcmd, escapeshellarg, show_source, posix_mkfifo, mysql_list_dbs, get_current_user, getmyuid, pconnect, link, symlink, pcntl_exec, ini_alter, pfsockopen, leak, apache_child_terminate, posix_kill, posix_setpgid, posix_setsid, posix_setuid, proc_terminate, syslog, fpassthru, stream_select, socket_select, socket_create, socket_create_listen, socket_create_pair, socket_listen, socket_accept, socket_bind, socket_strerror, pcntl_fork, pcntl_signal, pcntl_waitpid, pcntl_wexitstatus, pcntl_wifexited, pcntl_wifsignaled, pcntl_wifstopped, pcntl_wstopsig, pcntl_wtermsig, openlog, apache_get_modules, apache_get_version, apache_getenv, apache_note, apache_setenv, virtual, chmod, file_upload, delete, deleted, edit, fwrite, cmd, rename, unlink, mkdir, mv, touch, cp, cd, pico"

Disabling PHP system(); and exec(); functions to raise up Apache security on Debian GNU / Linux

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Reading Time: 2minutes

Disabling PHP system(); and exec(); functions to raise up Apache security on Debian Gnu / Linux

At security critical hosts running Apache + PHP based sites it is recommended functions like:


to be disabled. The reason is to mainly harden against script kiddies who might exploit your site/s and upload some shitty SK tool like PHP WebShell, PHP Shell and the probably thousands of “hacker” variations that exist nowdays.

In latest Debian stable Squeeze, suhosinadvanced protection module for php5 is being installed and enabled in Apache (by default).
Simply disabling a number of functions using suhosin, could prevent multiple of future headaches and hours of pondering on who 0wn3d your server ….

Disabling the basic PHP system(); and other similar functions which allows shell spawn is not always possible, since some websites or CMS platforms depends on them for proper runnig, anyways whether it is possible disabling ’em is a must.
There are two ways to disable system(); functions; One is through using /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/suhosin.ini and 2nd by adding a list of functions that has to be disabled directly in Website Virtualhost file or in apache2.conf (/etc/apache2/apache2.conf;
For people hosting multiple virtualhost websites on the same server using the custom domain Virtualhost method is probably better, since on a global scale the functions could be enabled if some of the websites hosted on the server requires exec(); to work OK. In any case using /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/suhosin.ini to disable system(); functions in PHP is less messy …

1. Disabling PHP system(); fuctions through /etc/apache2/apache2.conf and custom site Vhosts

Place somewhere (I prefer near the end of config);;;

php_admin_flag safe_mode on
php_admin_value disable_functions "system, exec, shell_exec, passthru , ini_alter, dl, pfsockopen, openlog, syslog, readlink, symlink, link, leak, fsockopen, popen, escapeshellcmd, apache_child_terminate apache_get_modules, apache_get_version, apache_getenv, apache_note,apache_setenv,virtual"

Disabling it for custom virtualhost is done by simply adding above Apache directvies (before the closing tag in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/

2. Disabling PHP system();, exec(); shell spawn with suhosin.ini

In /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/suhosin.ini add;;

suhosin.executor.func.blacklist =system, exec, shell_exec, passthru, ini_alter, dl,
pfsockopen, openlog, syslog, readlink, symlink, link, leak, fsockopen, popen,
escapeshellcmd, apache_child_terminate apache_get_modules, apache_get_version,
apache_getenv, apache_note,apache_setenv,virtual

To do it directly via shell issue;;;

server: conf.d/# cd /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/
server: conf.d# echo 'suhosin.executor.func.blacklist =system, exec, shell_exec, passthru, ini_alter, dl,' >> suhosin.ini
server: conf.d# echo 'pfsockopen, openlog, syslog, readlink, symlink, link, leak, fsockopen, popen,' >> suhosin.ini
server: conf.d# echo escapeshellcmd, apache_child_terminate apache_get_modules, apache_get_version,' >> suhosin.ini
server: conf.d# echo 'apache_getenv, apache_note,apache_setenv,virtual' >> suhosin.ini

Then to re-load the memory loaded Apache libphp library an Apache restart is necessary;

server: conf.d# /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
Restarting web server: apache2 ... waiting .
server: conf.d#

Tadam, this should be quite a good security against annoying automated script attacks. Cheers 😉