This year I’ve introduced the concept of doing a “release presentation” for every release. Those are videos where I go through and discuss the changes, the security releases and some interesting bug-fixes. Each release links to those from the changelog page on the website.
We cancelled curl up 2020 due to Covid-19. It was planned to happen in Berlin. We did it purely online instead. We’re not planning any new physical curl up for 2021 either. Let’s just wait and see what happens with the pandemic next year and hope that we might be able to go back and have a physical meetup in 2022…
Not everyone understands how open source is made. I received the following email from NASA a while ago.
Subject: Curl Country of Origin and NDAA Compliance
Hello, my name is [deleted] and I am a Supply Chain Risk Management Analyst at NASA. As such, I ensure that all NASA acquisitions of Covered Articles comply with Section 208 of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, Public Law 116-94, enacted December 20, 2019. To do so, the Country of Origin (CoO) information must be obtained from the company that develops, produces, manufactures, or assembles the product(s). To do so, please provide an email response or a formal document (a PDF on company letterhead is preferred, but a simple statement is sufficient) specifically identifying the country, or countries, in which Curl is developed and maintained
If the country of origin is outside the United States, please provide any information you may have stating that testing is performed in the United States prior to supplying products to customers. Additionally, if available, please identify all authorized resellers of the product in question.
Lastly, please confirm that Curl is not developed by, contain components developed by, or receive substantial influence from entities prohibited by Section 889 of the 2019 NDAA. These entities include the following companies and any of their subsidiaries or affiliates:
Hytera Communications Corporation Huawei Technologies Company ZTE Corporation Dahua Technology Company Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company
Finally, we have a time frame of 5 days for a response. Thank you,
Okay, I first considered going with strong sarcasm in my reply due to the complete lack of understanding, and the implied threat in that last line. What would happen if I wouldn’t respond in time?
Then it struck me that this could be my chance to once and for all get a confirmation if curl is already actually used in space or not. So I went with informative and a friendly tone.
I will answer to these questions below to the best of my ability, and maybe you can answer something for me?
curl (https://curl.se) is an open source project that creates two products, curl the command line tool and libcurl the library. I am the founder, lead developer and core maintainer of the project. To this date, I have done about 57% of the 26,000 changes in the source code repository. The remaining 43% have been done by 841 different volunteers and contributors from all over the world. Their names can be extracted from our git repository: https://github.com/curl/curl
You can also see that I own most, but not all, copyrights in the project.
I am a citizen of Sweden and I’ve been a citizen of Sweden during the entire time I’ve done all and any work on curl. The remaining 841 co-authors are from all over the world, but primarily from western European countries and the US. You could probably say that we live primarily “on the Internet” and not in any particular country.
We don’t have resellers. I work for an American company (wolfSSL) where we do curl support for customers world-wide.
Our testing is done universally and is not bound to any specific country or region. We test our code substantially before release.
Me knowingly, we do not have any components or code authored by people at any of the mentioned companies.
So finally my question: can you tell me anything about where or for what you use curl? Is it used in anything in space?
Used in space?
Of course my attempt was completely in vain and the answer back was very brief and it just said…
“We are using curl to support NASA’s mission and vision.”
You might recall that my Twitter account was hijacked and then again just two weeks later.
The first: brute-force
The first take-over was most likely a case of brute-forcing my weak password while not having 2FA enabled. I have no excuse for either of those lapses. I had convinced myself I had 2fa enabled which made me take a (too) lax attitude to my short 8-character password that was possible to remember. Clearly, 2fa was not enabled and then the only remaining wall against the evil world was that weak password.
The second time
After that first hijack, I immediately changed password to a strong many-character one and I made really sure I enabled 2fa with an authenticator app and I felt safe again. Yet it would only take seventeen days until I again was locked out from my account. This second time, I could see how someone had managed to change the email address associated with my account (displayed when I wanted to reset my password). With the password not working and the account not having the correct email address anymore, I could not reset the password, and my 2fa status had no effect. I was locked out. Again.
It felt related to the first case because I’ve had my Twitter account since May 2008. I had never lost it before and then suddenly after 12+ years, within a period of three weeks, it happens twice?
Why and how
How this happened was a complete mystery to me. The account was restored fairly swiftly but I learned nothing from that.
Then someone at Twitter contacted me. After they investigated what had happened and how, I had a chat with a responsible person there and he explained for me exactly how this went down.
Had Twitter been hacked? Is there a way to circumvent 2FA? Were my local computer or phone compromised? No, no and no.
Apparently, an agent at Twitter who were going through the backlog of issues, where my previous hijack issue was still present, accidentally changed the email on my account by mistake, probably confusing it with another account in another browser tab.
There was no outside intruder, it was just a user error.
Okay, the cynics will say, this is what he told me and there is no evidence to back it up. That’s right, I’m taking his words as truth here but I also think the description matches my observations. There’s just no way for me or any outsider to verify or fact-check this.
A brighter future
They seem to already have identified things to improve to reduce the risk of this happening again and Michael also mentioned a few other items on their agenda that should make hijacks harder to do and help them detect suspicious behavior earlier and faster going forward. I was also happy to provide my feedback on how I think they could’ve made my lost-account experience a little better.
I’m relieved that the second time at least wasn’t my fault and neither of my systems are breached or hacked (as far as I know).
I’ve also now properly and thoroughly gone over all my accounts on practically all online services I use and made really sure that I have 2fa enabled on them. On some of them I’ve also changed my registered email address to one with 30 random letters to make it truly impossible for any outsider to guess what I use.
(I’m also positively surprised by this extra level of customer care Twitter showed for me and my case.)
Am I a target?
I don’t think I am. I think maybe my Twitter account could be interesting to scammers since I have almost 25K followers and I have a verified account. Me personally, I work primarily with open source and most of my works is already made public. I don’t deal in business secrets. I don’t think my personal stuff attracts attackers more than anyone else does.
What about the risk or the temptation for bad guys in trying to backdoor curl? It is after all installed in some 10 billion systems world-wide. I’ve elaborated on that before. Summary: I think it is terribly hard for someone to actually manage to do it. Not because of the security of my personal systems perhaps, but because of the entire setup and all processes, signings, reviews, testing and scanning that are involved.
So no. I don’t think my personal systems are a valued singled out target to attackers.
After having created the scoring system and generated lists, step 3 is said to be “Use this data to proactively improve the security posture of these critical projects.“.
Now I think we have a pretty strong effort on security already in curl and Google helped us strengthen it even more recently, but I figure we can never have too much help or focus on improving our project.
the 196th release 1 change 56 days (total: 8,301) 107 bug fixes (total: 6,569) 167 commits (total: 26,484) 0 new public libcurl function (total: 85) 6 new curl_easy_setopt() option (total: 284) 1 new curl command line option (total: 235) 46 contributors, 22 new (total: 2,292) 22 authors, 8 new (total: 843) 3 security fixes (total: 98) 1,600 USD paid in Bug Bounties(total: 4,400 USD)
This time around we have no less than three vulnerabilities fixed and as shown above we’ve paid 1,600 USD in reward money this time, out of which the reporter of the CVE-2020-8286 issue got the new record amount 900 USD. The second one didn’t get any reward simply because it was not claimed. In this single release we doubled the number of vulnerabilities we’ve published this year!
The six announced CVEs during 2020 still means this has been a better year than each of the six previous years (2014-2019) and we have to go all the way back to 2013 to find a year with fewer CVEs reported.
I’m very happy and proud that we as an small independent open source project can reward these skilled security researchers like this. Much thanks to our generous sponsors of course.
CVE-2020-8284: trusting FTP PASV responses
When curl performs a passive FTP transfer, it first tries the EPSV command and if that is not supported, it falls back to using PASV. Passive mode is what curl uses by default.
A server response to a PASV command includes the (IPv4) address and port number for the client to connect back to in order to perform the actual data transfer.
This is how the FTP protocol is designed to work.
A malicious server can use the PASV response to trick curl into connecting back to a given IP address and port, and this way potentially make curl extract information about services that are otherwise private and not disclosed, for example doing port scanning and service banner extractions.
If curl operates on a URL provided by a user (which by all means is an unwise setup), a user can exploit that and pass in a URL to a malicious FTP server instance without needing any server breach to perform the attack.
There’s no really good solution or fix to this, as this is how FTP works, but starting in curl 7.74.0, curl will default to ignoring the IP address in the PASV response and instead just use the address it already uses for the control connection. In other words, we will enable the CURLOPT_FTP_SKIP_PASV_IP option by default! This will cause problems for some rare use cases (which then have to disable this), but we still think it’s worth doing.
CVE-2020-8285: FTP wildcard stack overflow
libcurl offers a wildcard matching functionality, which allows a callback (set with CURLOPT_CHUNK_BGN_FUNCTION) to return information back to libcurl on how to handle a specific entry in a directory when libcurl iterates over a list of all available entries.
When this callback returns CURL_CHUNK_BGN_FUNC_SKIP, to tell libcurl to not deal with that file, the internal function in libcurl then calls itself recursively to handle the next directory entry.
If there’s a sufficient amount of file entries and if the callback returns “skip” enough number of times, libcurl runs out of stack space. The exact amount will of course vary with platforms, compilers and other environmental factors.
The content of the remote directory is not kept on the stack, so it seems hard for the attacker to control exactly what data that overwrites the stack – however it remains a Denial-Of-Service vector as a malicious user who controls a server that a libcurl-using application works with under these premises can trigger a crash.
CVE-2020-8286: Inferior OCSP verification
libcurl offers “OCSP stapling” via the CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYSTATUS option. When set, libcurl verifies the OCSP response that a server responds with as part of the TLS handshake. It then aborts the TLS negotiation if something is wrong with the response. The same feature can be enabled with --cert-status using the curl tool.
As part of the OCSP response verification, a client should verify that the response is indeed set out for the correct certificate. This step was not performed by libcurl when built or told to use OpenSSL as TLS backend.
This flaw would allow an attacker, who perhaps could have breached a TLS server, to provide a fraudulent OCSP response that would appear fine, instead of the real one. Like if the original certificate actually has been revoked.
There’s really only one “change” this time, and it is an experimental one which means you need to enable it explicitly in the build to get to try it out. We discourage people from using this in production until we no longer consider it experimental but we will of course appreciate feedback on it and help to perfect it.
The change in this release introduces no less than 6 new easy setopts for the library and one command line option: support HTTP Strict-Transport-Security, also known as HSTS. This is a system for HTTPS hosts to tell clients to attempt to contact them over insecure methods (ie clear text HTTP).
Yet another release with over one hundred bug-fixes accounted for. I’ve selected a few interesting ones that I decided to highlight below.
enable alt-svc in the build by default
We landed the code and support for alt-svc: headers in early 2019 marked as “experimental”. We feel the time has come for this little baby to grow up and step out into the real world so we removed the labeling and we made sure the support is enabled by default in builds (you can still disable it if you want).
8 cmake fixes bring cmake closer to autotools level
In curl 7.73.0 we removed the “scary warning” from the cmake build that warned users that the cmake build setup might be inferior. The goal was to get more people to use it, and then by extension help out to fix it. The trick might have worked and we’ve gotten several improvements to the cmake build in this cycle. More over, we’ve gotten a whole slew of new bug reports on it as well so now we have a list of known cmake issues in the KNOWN_BUGS document, ready for interested contributors to dig into!
configure now uses pkg-config to find openSSL when cross-compiling
Just one of those tiny weird things. At some point in the past someone had trouble building OpenSSL cross-compiled when pkg-config was used so it got disabled. I don’t recall the details. This time someone had the reversed problem so now the configure script was fixed again to properly use pkg-config even when cross-compiling…
curl: only warn not fail, if not finding the home dir
The curl tool attempts to find the user’s home dir, the user who invokes the command, in order to look for some files there. For example the .curlrc file. More importantly, when doing SSH related protocol it is somewhat important to find the file ~/.ssh/known_hosts. So important that the tool would abort if not found. Still, a command line can still work without that during various circumstances and in particular if -k is used so bailing out like that was nothing but wrong…
curl_easy_escape: limit output string length to 3 * max input
In general, libcurl enforces an internal string length limit that prevents any string to grow larger than 8MB. This is done to prevent mistakes or abuse. Due a mistake, the string length limit was enforced wrongly in the curl_easy_escape function which could make the limit a third of the intended size: 2.67 MB.
only set USE_RESOLVE_ON_IPS for Apple’s native resolver use
This define is set internally when the resolver function is used even when a plain IP address is given. On macOS for example, the resolver functions are used to do some conversions and thus this is necessary, while for other resolver libraries we avoid the resolver call when we can convert the IP number to binary internally more effectively.
By a mistake we had enabled this “call getaddrinfo() anyway”-logic even when curl was built to use c-ares on macOS.
fix memory leaks in GnuTLS backend
We used two functions to extract information from the server certificate that didn’t properly free the memory after use. We’ve filed subsequent bug reports in the GnuTLS project asking them to make the required steps much clearer in their documentation so that perhaps other projects can avoid the same mistake going forward.
libssh2: fix transport over HTTPS proxy
SFTP file transfers didn’t work correctly since previous fixes obviously weren’t thorough enough. This fix has been confirmed fine in use.
make curl –retry work for HTTP 408 responses too
Again. We made the --retry logic work for 408 once before, but for some inexplicable reasons the support for that was accidentally dropped when we introduced parallel transfer support in curl. Regression fixed!
use OPENSSL_init_ssl() with >= 1.1.0
Initializing the OpenSSL library the correct way is a task that sounds easy but always been a source for problems and misunderstandings and it has never been properly documented. It is a long and boring story that has been going on for a very long time. This time, we add yet another chapter to this novel when we start using this function call when OpenSSL 1.1.0 or later (or BoringSSL) is used in the build. Hopefully, this is one of the last chapters in this book.
“scheme-less URLs” not longer accept blank port number
curl operates on “URLs”, but as a special shortcut it also supports URLs without the scheme. For example just a plain host name. Such input isn’t at all by any standards an actual URL or URI; curl was made to handle such input to mimic how browsers work. curl “guesses” what scheme the given name is meant to have, and for most names it will go with HTTP.
Further, a URL can provide a specific port number using a colon and a port number following the host name, like “hostname:80” and the path then follows the port number: “hostname:80/path“. To complicate matters, the port number can be blank, and the path can start with more than one slash: “hostname://path“.
curl’s logic that determines if a given input string has a scheme present checks the first 40 bytes of the string for a :// sequence and if that is deemed not present, curl determines that this is a scheme-less host name.
This means [39-letter string]:// as input is treated as a URL with a scheme and a scheme that curl doesn’t know about and therefore is rejected as an input, while [40-letter string]:// is considered a host name with a blank port number field and a path that starts with double slash!
In 7.74.0 we remove that potentially confusing difference. If the URL is determined to not have a scheme, it will not be accepted if it also has a blank port number!
Status: 00:27 in the morning of December 4 my account was restored again. No words or explanations on how it happened – yet.
This morning (December 3rd, 2020) I woke up to find myself logged out from my Twitter account on the devices where I was previously logged in. Due to “suspicious activity” on my account. I don’t know the exact time this happened. I checked my phone at around 07:30 and then it has obviously already happened. So at time time over night.
Trying to log back in, I get prompted saying I need to update my password first. Trying that, it wants to send a confirmation email to an email address that isn’t mine! Someone has managed to modify the email address associated with my account.
It has only been two weeks since someone hijacked my account the last time and abused it for scams. When I got the account back, I made very sure I both set a good, long, password and activated 2FA on my account. 2FA with auth-app, not SMS.
The last time I wasn’t really sure about how good my account security was. This time I know I did it by the book. And yet this is what happened.
I was in touch with someone at Twitter security and provided lots of details of my systems , software, IP address etc while they researched their end about what happened. I was totally transparent and gave them all info I had that could shed some light.
I was contacted by a Sr. Director from Twitter (late Dec 4 my time). We have a communication established and I’ve been promised more details and information at some point next week. Stay tuned.
Was I breached?
Many people have proposed that the attacker must have come through my local machine to pull this off. If someone did, it has been a very polished job as there is no trace at all of that left anywhere on my machine. Also, to reset my password I would imagine the attacker would need to somehow hijack my twitter session, need the 2FA or trigger a password reset and intercept the email. I don’t receive emails on my machine so the attacker would then have had to (also?) manage to get into my email machine and removed that email – and not too many others because I receive a lot of email and I’ve kept on receiving a lot of email during this period.
I’m not ruling it out. I’m just thinking it seems unlikely.
If the attacker would’ve breached my phone and installed something nefarious on that, it would not have removed any reset emails and it seems like a pretty touch challenge to hijack a “live” session from the Twitter client or get the 2FA code from the authenticator app. Not unthinkable either, just unlikely.
As I have no insights into the other end I cannot really say which way I think is the most likely that the perpetrator used for this attack, but I will maintain that I have no traces of a local attack or breach and I know of no malicious browser add-ons or twitter apps on my devices.
Firefox version 83.0 on Debian Linux with Tweetdeck in a tab – a long-lived session started over a week ago (ie no recent 2FA codes used),
Browser extensions: Cisco Webex, Facebook container, multi-account containers, HTTPS Everywhere, test pilot and ublock origin.
I only use one “authorized app” with Twitter and that’s Tweetdeck.
On the Android phone, I run an updated Android with an auto-updated Twitter client. That session also started over a week ago. I used Google Authenticator for 2fa.
While this hijack took place I was asleep at home (I don’t know the exact time of it), on my WiFi, so all my most relevant machines would’ve been seen as originating from the same “NATed” IP address. This info was also relayed to Twitter security.
The actual restoration happens like this (and it was the exact same the last time): I just suddenly receive an email on how to reset my password for my account.
The email is a standard one without any specifics for this case. Just a template press the big button and it takes you to the Twitter site where I can set a new password for my account. There is nothing in the mail that indicates a human was involved in sending it. There is no text explaining what happened. Oh, right, the mail also include a bunch of standard security advice like “use a strong password”, “don’t share your password with others” and “activate two factor” etc as if I hadn’t done all that already…
It would be prudent of Twitter to explain how this happened, at least roughly and without revealing sensitive details. If it was my fault somehow, or if I just made it easier because of something in my end, I would really like to know so that I can do better in the future.
What was done to it?
No tweets were sent. The name and profile picture remained intact. I’ve not seen any DMs sent or received from while the account was “kidnapped”. Given this, it seems possible that the attacker actually only managed to change the associated account email address.