Null bytes related issues

As PHP uses the underlying C functions for filesystem related operations, it may handle null bytes in a quite unexpected way. As null bytes denote the end of a string in C, strings containing them won't be considered entirely but rather only until a null byte occurs. The following example shows a vulnerable code that demonstrates this problem:

Example #1 Script vulnerable to null bytes

<?php
$file 
$_GET['file']; // "../../etc/passwd\0"
if (file_exists('/home/wwwrun/'.$file.'.php')) {
    
// file_exists will return true as the file /home/wwwrun/../../etc/passwd exists
    
include '/home/wwwrun/'.$file.'.php';
    
// the file /etc/passwd will be included
}
?>

Therefore, any tainted string that is used in a filesystem operation should always be validated properly. Here is a better version of the previous example:

Example #2 Correctly validating the input

<?php
$file 
$_GET['file']; 

// Whitelisting possible values
switch ($file) {
    case 
'main':
    case 
'foo':
    case 
'bar':
        include 
'/home/wwwrun/include/'.$file.'.php';
        break;
    default:
        include 
'/home/wwwrun/include/main.php';
}
?>
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User Contributed Notes 3 notes

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2
Anonymous
7 months ago
Looks like this issue was fixed in PHP 5.3 https://bugs.php.net/bug.php?id=39863
up
1
J.D. Grimes
1 month ago
This issue has been fixed for file_exists(): https://bugs.php.net/bug.php?id=39863

It still exists for include|require(_once) as of this writing.
up
-23
kpobococ at gmail dot com
5 years ago
Since problems with null bytes do not stretch to regular string functions, this should be enough to ensure no GET parameter contains them any more:

<?php
function getVar($name)
{
   
$value = isset($_GET[$name]) ? $_GET[$name] : null;
   
    if (
is_string($value)) {
       
$value = str_replace("\0", '', $value);
    }
}
?>

Modifying this to work with other superglobals should not be a problem, so I will leave it up to you.
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