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‫ Java Secure Coding - Input Validation and Data Sanitization Rules – IDS05-J

IRCAR201403206
Date: 2014-03-19

File and path names containing particular characters can be troublesome and can cause unexpected behavior resulting in vulnerabilities. The following characters and patterns can be problematic when used in the construction of a file or path name:

·         Leading dashes: Leading dashes can cause problems when programs are called with the file name as a parameter because the first character or characters of the file name might be interpreted as an option switch.

·         Control characters, such as newlines, carriage returns, and escape: Control characters in a file name can cause unexpected results from shell scripts and in logging.

·         Spaces: Spaces can cause problems with scripts and when double quotes are not used to surround the file name.

·         Invalid character encodings: Character encodings can make it difficult to perform proper validation of file and path names. (See IDS11-J. Eliminate noncharacter code points before validation).

·         Name-space separation characters: Including name-space separation characters in a file or path name can cause unexpected and potentially insecure behavior.

·         Command interpreters, scripts, and parsers: Some characters have special meaning when processed by a command interpreter, shell, or parser and should consequently be avoided.

As a result of the influence of MS-DOS, file names of the form xxxxxxxx.xxx, where x denotes an alphanumeric character, are generally supported by modern systems. On some platforms, file names are case sensitive, and on other platforms, they are case insensitive. VU#439395 is an example of a vulnerability in C resulting from a failure to deal appropriately with case sensitivity issues [VU#439395].

This is a specific instance of IDS00-J. Sanitize untrusted data passed across a trust boundary.

Noncompliant Code Example

In the following noncompliant code example, unsafe characters are used as part of a file name.

File f = newFile("A\uD8AB");

OutputStream out = newFileOutputStream(f);

 

A platform is free to define its own mapping of the unsafe characters. For example, when tested on an Ubuntu Linux distribution, this noncompliant code example resulted in the following file name:

 
A?
 
Compliant Solution

Use a descriptive file name, containing only the subset of ASCII previously described.

File f = newFile("name.ext");

OutputStream out = newFileOutputStream(f);

Noncompliant Code Example

This noncompliant code example creates a file with input from the user without sanitizing the input.

publicstaticvoidmain(String[] args) throwsException {

  if(args.length < 1) {

    // Handle error

  }

  File f = newFile(args[0]);

  OutputStream out = newFileOutputStream(f);

  // ...
}

No checks are performed on the file name to prevent troublesome characters. If an attacker knew this code was in a program used to create or rename files that would later be used in a script or automated process of some sort, the attacker could choose particular characters in the output file name to confuse the later process for malicious purposes.

Compliant Solution

In this compliant solution, the program uses a whitelist to reject unsafe file names.

publicstaticvoidmain(String[] args) throwsException {

  if(args.length < 1) {

    // Handle error

  }

  String filename = args[0];

 

  Pattern pattern =

    Pattern.compile("[^A-Za-z0-9%&+,.:=_]");

  Matcher matcher = pattern.matcher(filename);

  if(matcher.find()) {

    // File name contains bad chars; handle error

  }

  File f = newFile(filename);

  OutputStream out = newFileOutputStream(f);

  // ...
}

All file names originating from untrusted sources must be sanitized to ensure they contain only safe characters.

Risk Assessment

References:

https://www.securecoding.cert.org/confluence/display/java/IDS05-J.+Use+a+subset+of+ASCII+for+file+and+path+names
 

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