Posts Tagged ‘apache webserver’

Adding another level of security to your shared Debian Linux webhosting server with SuPHP

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015


There are plenty of security schemes and strategies you can implement if you're a Shared Web Hosting company sysadmin however probably the most vital one is to install on Apache + PHP Webserver SuPHP module.

# apt-cache show suphp-common|grep -i descrip -A 4

Description: Common files for mod suphp Suphp consists of an Apache module (mod_suphp for either Apache 1.3.x or Apache 2.x) and a setuid root binary (suphp) that is called by the Apache module to change the uid of the process executing the PHP interpreter to the owner of the php script.

So what SuPHP actuall  does is to run separate CPanel / Kloxo etc. Users with separate username and groupid permissions coinciding with the user present in /etc/passwd , /etc/shadow files existing users, thus in case if someone hacks some of the many customer sites he would be able to only write files and directories under the user with which the security breach occured.

On servers where SuPHP is not installed, all  systemusers are using the same UserID / GuID to run PHP executable scripts under separate domains Virtualhost which are coinciding with Apache (on Debian / Ubuntu  uid, gid – www-data) or on (CentOS / RHEL / Fedora etc. – user apache) so once one site is defaced  exploited by a worm all or most server websites might end up infected with a Web Virus / Worm which will be trying to exploit even more sites of a type running silently in the background.  This is very common scenarios as currently there are donezs of PHP / CSS / Javasripts / XSS vulnerability exploited on VPS and Shared hosting servers due to failure of a customer to update his own CMS  scripts / Website  (Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal etc.) and the lack of resource to regularly monitor all customer activities / websites.

Therefore installing SuPHP Apache module is essential one to install on new serverslarge hosting providers as it saves the admin a lot of headache from spreading malware across all hosted servers sites ..
Some VPS admins that are security freaks tend to also install SuPHP module together with many chrooted Apache / LiteSpeed / Nginx webservers each of which running in a separate Jailed environment.

Of course using SuPHP besides giving a improved security layer to the webserver has its downsides such as increased load for the server and making Apache PHP scripts being interpretted a little bit slower than with plain Apache + PHP but performance difference while running a site on top of SuPHP is often not so drastic so you can live it up ..

Installing SuPHP on a Debian / Ubuntu servers is a piece of cake, just run the as root superuser, usual:

# apt-get install libapache2-mod-suphp

Once installed only thing to make is to turn off default installed Apache PHP module (without SuPHP compiled support and restart Apache webserver):

# a2dismod php5 …

# /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

To test the SuPHP is properly working on the Apache Webserver go into some of many hosted server websites DocumentRoot

And create new file called test_suphp.php with below content:

# vim test_suphp.php

Then open in browser http://whatever-website/test_suphp.php assuming that system(); function is not disabled for security reasons in php.ini you should get an User ID, GroupID bigger than reserved system IDs on GNU / Linux e.g. ID > UID / GID 99

Its also a good idea to take a look into SuPHP configuration file /etc/suphp/suphp.conf and tailor options according to your liking 

If different hosted client users home directories are into /home directory, set in suphp.conf

;Path all scripts have to be in


Also usually it is a good idea to set 


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Apache Webserver disable file extension – Forbid / Deny access in Apache config to certain file extensions for a Virtualhost

Monday, March 30th, 2015

If you're a Webhosting company sysadmin like me and you already have configured directory listing for certain websites / Vhosts and those files are mirrored from other  development webserver location but some of the uploaded developer files extensions which are allowed to be interptered such as php include files .inc / .htaccess mod_rewrite rules / .phps / .html / .txt need to be working on the dev / test server but needs to be disabled (excluded) from delivery or interpretting for some directory on the prod server.

Open Separate host VirtualHost file or Apache config (httpd.conf / apache2.conf)  if all Vhosts  for which you want to disable certain file extensions and add inside:

<Directory "/var/www/sploits">
        AllowOverride All



Extension Deny Rules such as:

For disabling .inc files from inclusion from other PHP sources:

<Files  ~ "\.inc$">
  Order allow,deny
  Deny from all

To Disable access to .htaccess single file only


<Files ~ "^\.htaccess">
  Order allow,deny
  Deny from all

To Disable .txt from being served by Apache and delivered to requestor browser:


<Files  ~ "\.txt$">
  Order allow,deny
  Deny from all


To Disable any left intact .html from being delivered to client:


<Files  ~ "\.html$">
  Order allow,deny
  Deny from all


Do it for as many extensions as you need.
Finally to make changes affect restart Apache as usual:

If on Deb based Linux issue:

/etc/init.d/apach2 restart

On CentOS / RHEL and other Redhats / RedHacks 🙂

/etc/init.d/httpd restart

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How to check Apache Webserver and MySQL server uptime – Check uptime of a running daemon with PS (process) command

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015


Something very useful that most Apache LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) admins should know is how to check Apache Webserver uptime and MySQL server running (uptime).
Checking Apache / MySQL uptime is primary useful for scripting purposes – creating auto Apache / MySQL service restart scripts, or just as a quick console way to check what is the status and uptime of Webserver / SQL.

My experience as a sysadmin shows that lack of Periodic Apache and MySQL restart every week or every month often creates sys-admin a lot of a headaches cause (Apache / NGINX / SQL  server) starts eating too much memory or under some circumstances leads to service or system crashes. Periodic system main services restart is especially helpful in case if Website's backend programming code is writetn in a bad and buggy uneffient way by unprofessional (novice) programmers.
While I was still working as Senior SysAdmin in Design.BG, I've encountered many such Crappy Web applications developed by dozen of different programmers (because company's programmers changed too frequently and many of the hired Web Developers ,were still learning to program, I guess same is true also for other Start-UP Web / IT Company where crappy programming code is developed you will certainly need to keep an eye on Apache / MYSQL uptime.  If that's the case below 2 quick one liners with PS command will help you keep an eye on Apache / MYSQL uptime


ps -eo "%U %c %t"| grep apache2 | grep -v grep|grep root
root     apache2            02:30:05

Note that above example is Debian specific on RPM based distributions you will have to grep for httpd instead of apache2

ps -eo "%U %c %t"| grep http| grep -v grep|grep root

root     apache2            10:30:05

To check MySQL uptine:

ps -eo "%U %c %t"| grep mysqld
root     mysqld_safe        20:42:53
mysql    mysqld             20:42:53

Though example is for mysql and Apache you can easily use ps cmd in same way to check any other Linux service uptime such as Java / Qmail / PostgreSQL / Postfix etc.

ps -eo "%U %c %t"|grep qmail
qmails   qmail-send      19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        19-01:10:48
root     qmail-lspawn    19-01:10:48
qmailr   qmail-rspawn    19-01:10:48
qmailq   qmail-clean     19-01:10:48
qmails   qmail-todo      19-01:10:48
qmailq   qmail-clean     19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        40-18:02:53


 ps -eo "%U %c %t"|grep -i nginx|grep -v root|uniq
nobody   nginx           55-01:22:44


ps -eo "%U %c %t"|grep -i java|grep -v root |uniq
hipo   java            27-22:02:07


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Preserve Session IDs of Tomcat cluster behind Apache reverse proxy / Sticky sessions with mod_proxy and Tomcat

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Having a combination of Apache webservice Reverse Proxy to redirect invisibly traffic to a number of Tomcat server positioned in a DMZ is a classic task in big companies Corporate world.
Hence if you work for company like IBM or HP sooner or later you will need to configure Apache Webserver cluster with few running Jakarta Tomcat Application servers behind. Scenario with necessity to access a java based application via Tomcat which requires logging (authentication) relaying on establishing and keeping a session ID is probably one of the most common ones and if you do it for first time you will probably end up with Session ID issues.  Session ID issues are hard to capture at first as on first glimpse application will seem to be working but users will have to re-login all the time even though the programmers might have coded for a session to expiry in 30 minutes or so.

… I mean not having configured Session ID prevention to Tomcats will cause random authentication session expiries and users using the Tomcat app will be unable to normally access below application with authenticated credentials. The solution to these is known under term "Sticky sessions"
To configure Sticky sessions you need to already have configured Apache/s with following minimum configuration:

  • enabled mod_proxy, proxy_balancer_module, proxy_http_module and or mod_proxy_ajp (in Apache config)

  LoadModule proxy_module modules/
LoadModule proxy_balancer_module modules/
LoadModule proxy_http_module modules/

  • And configured and tested Tomcats running an Application reachable via AJP protocol

Below example assumes there is Reverse Proxy Load Balancer Apache which has to forward all traffic to 2 tomcats. The config can easily be extended for as many as necessary by adding more BalancerMembers.

In Apache webserver (apache2.conf / httpd.conf) you need to have JSESSIONID configured. These JSESSIONID is going to be appended to each client request from Reverse Proxy to each of Tomcat servers with value opened once on authentication to first Tomcat node to each of the other ones.

<Proxy balancer://mycluster>
BalancerMember ajp:// route=delivery1
BalancerMember ajp:// route=delivery2

ProxyRequests Off
ProxyPass / balancer://mycluster/ stickysession=JSESSIONID
ProxyPassReverse / balancer://mycluster/

The two variables route=delivery1 and route=delivery2 are routed to hosts identificators that also has to be present in Tomcat server configurations
In Tomcat App server First Node (server.xml)

<Engine name="Catalina" defaultHost="localhost" jvmRoute="delivery1">

In Tomcat App server Second Node (server.xml)

<Engine name="Catalina" defaultHost="localhost" jvmRoute="delivery2">

Once Sticky Sessions are configured it is useful to be able to track they work fine this is possible through logging each of established JESSSIONIDs, to do so add in httpd.conf

LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"\"%{JSESSIONID}C\"" combined

After modifications restart Apache and Tomcat to load new configs. In Apache access.log the proof should be the proof that sessions are preserved via JSESSIONID, there should be logs like: - - [18/Sep/2013:10:02:02 +0800] "POST /examples/servlets/servlet/RequestParamExample HTTP/1.1" 200 662 "http://localhost/examples/servlets/servlet/RequestParamExample" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:17.0) Gecko/20130807 Firefox/17.0""B80557A1D9B48EC1D73CF8C7482B7D46.server2" - - [18/Sep/2013:10:02:06 +0800] "GET /examples/servlets/servlet/RequestInfoExample HTTP/1.1" 200 693 "http://localhost/examples/servlets/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:17.0) Gecko/20130807 Firefox/17.0""B80557A1D9B48EC1D73CF8C7482B7D46.server2"

That should solve problems with mysterious session expiries 🙂

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Installing Usual PHP Apache needed modules for new Debian GNU / Linux servers

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Almost evertime whether install a new Debian Linux server to host some websites, use the popular small and mid-sized hosting solution combination:

  • Apache webserver
  • PHP module to interpret the PHP programming code
  • MySQL to store the DB Backend

Installing the basis for on Debian is easy:

# apt-get install --yes apache2 apache2-mpm-prefork libapache2-mod-php \
mysql-server php5 php5-mysql mysql-client mysql-common phpmyadmin

This of course is in case, if necessery to run websites which are written to usephp code which is not thread safety (Use Apache child prefork technology to manage processes); For websites writen to be thread safety (not use some forking php functions like: php – exec(); fork(); etc. – I install apache2-mpm-prefork for better Webserver performance and speed.

This minimum collection of packages is good only for basic, websites and most Joomla, WordPress, Drupal or whatever custom PHP websites has to be hosted usually require much more PHP functions which are not part of this basic bundle. Hence as I said prior on almost all new Linux debian / ubuntu deb package based servers need to install following list of extra PHP deb packages:

# apt-get install --yes php-apc php-auth-ssl php-mail \
php-http php-net-smtp php-net-socket php-pear php5-cli php5-curl \
php5-gd php5-imagick php5-mapscript php5-mcrypt php5-odbc php5-sybase \

After installing this standard bundle of modules PHP is extended to support somenice functionalities like Image editting / convertion / resizing … various graphic editting functions as supported by infamous ImageMagick and GDlib, PEAR support (PHP Extension and Application Repository) bundle providing number of useful PHP classes.
php5-xInstalling Usual PHP Apache needed modules for new Debian GNU / Linux serverssl is usually necessery for websites which pass data in XSL format (a specific formatted XML data). php5-xsl is usually necessery for websites containing flash animationsPresentation, videos, games etc.

That is mostly it, hope this helps some sys admin like me who need configure new Debian based hosting server 🙂

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Auto restart Apache on High server load (bash shell script) – Fixing Apache server temporal overload issues

Saturday, March 24th, 2012


I've written a tiny script to check and restart, Apache if the server encounters, extremely high load avarage like for instance more than (>25). Below is an example of a server reaching a very high load avarage:;

server~:# uptime
13:46:59 up 2 days, 18:54, 1 user, load average: 58.09, 59.08, 60.05
load average: 0.09, 0.08, 0.08

Sometimes high load avarage is not a problem, as the server might have a very powerful hardware. A high load numbers is not always an indicator for a serious problems. Some 16 CPU dual core (2.18 Ghz) machine with 16GB of ram could probably work normally with a high load avarage like in the example. Anyhow as most servers are not so powerful having such a high load avarage, makes the machine hardly do its job routine.

In my specific, case one of our Debian Linux servers is periodically reaching to a very high load level numbers. When this happens the Apache webserver is often incapable to serve its incoming requests and starts lagging for clients. The only work-around is to stop the Apache server for a couple of seconds (10 or 20 seconds) and then start it again once the load avarage has dropped to less than "3".

If this temporary fix is not applied on time, the server load gets increased exponentially until all the server services (ssh, ftp … whatever) stop responding normally to requests and the server completely hangs …

Often this server overloads, are occuring at night time so I'm not logged in on the server and one such unexpected overload makes the server unreachable for hours.
To get around the sudden high periodic load avarage server increase, I've written a tiny bash script to monitor, the server load avarage and initiate an Apache server stop and start with a few seconds delay in between.

# script to check server for extremely high load and restart Apache if the condition is matched
check=`cat /proc/loadavg | sed 's/\./ /' | awk '{print $1}'`
# define max load avarage when script is triggered
# log file
# location of inidex.php to overwrite with temporary message
# location to Apache init script
site_maintenance_msg="Site Maintenance in progress - We will be back online in a minute";
if [ $check -gt "$max_load" ]; then>
#25 is load average on 5 minutes
cp -rpf $index_php_loc $index_php_loc.bak_ap
echo "$site_maintenance_msg" > $index_php_loc
sleep 15;
if [ $check -gt "$max_load" ]; then
$apache_init stop
sleep 5;
$apache_init restart
echo "$(date) : Apache Restart due to excessive load | $check |" >> $high_load_log;
cp -rpf $index_php_loc.bak_ap $index_php_loc

The idea of the script is partially based on a forum thread – Auto Restart Apache on High Load is a link to my script

The script is written in a way that it makes two "if" condition check ups, to assure 100% there is a constant high load avarage and not just a temporal 5 seconds load avarage jump. Once the first if is matched, the script first tries to reduce the server load by overwritting a the index.php, index.html script of the website with a one stating the server is ongoing a maintenance operations.
Temporary stopping the index page, often reduces the load in 10 seconds of time, so the second if case is not necessery at all. Sometimes, however this first "if" condition cannot decrease enough the load and the server load continues to stay too high, then the script second if comes to play and makes apache to be completely stopped via Apache init script do 2 secs delay and launch the apache server again.

The script also logs about, the load avarage encountered, while the server was overloaded and Apache webserver was restarted, so later I can check what time the server overload occured.
To make the script periodically run, I've scheduled the script to launch every 5 minutes as a cron job with the following cron:

# restart Apache if load is higher than 25
*/5 * * * * /usr/sbin/ >/dev/null 2>&1

I have also another system which is running FreeBSD 7_2, which is having the same overload server problems as with the Linux host.
Copying the auto restart apache on high load script on FreeBSD didn't work out of the box. So I rewrote a little chunk of the script to make it running on the FreeBSD host. Hence, if you would like to auto restart Apache or any other service on FreeBSD server get /usr/sbin/ my script and set it on cron on your BSD.

This script is just a temporary work around, however as its obvious that the frequency of the high overload will be rising with time and we will need to buy new server hardware to solve permanently the issues, anyways, until this happens the script does a great job 🙂

I'm aware there is also alternative way to auto restart Apache webserver on high server loads through using monit utility for monitoring services on a Unix system. However as I didn't wanted to bother to run extra services in the background I decided to rather use the up presented script.

Interesting info to know is Apache module mod_overload exists – which can be used for checking load average. Using this module once load avarage is over a certain number apache can stop in its preforked processes current serving request, I've never tested it myself so I don't know how usable it is. As of time of writting it is in early stage version 0.2.2
If someone, have tried it and is happy with it on a busy hosting servers, please share with me if it is stable enough?

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Check and Restart Apache if it is malfunctioning (not returning HTML content) shell script

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Check and Restart Apache Webserver on Malfunction, Apache feather logo

One of the company Debian Lenny 5.0 Webservers, where I'm working as sys admin sometimes stops to properly server HTTP requests.
Whenever this oddity happens, the Apache server seems to be running okay but it is not failing to return requested content

I can see the webserver listens on port 80 and establishing connections to remote hosts – the apache processes show normally as I can see in netstat …:

apache:~# netstat -enp 80
Active Internet connections (w/o servers)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address Foreign Address State User Inode PID/Program name
tcp 0 0 SYN_RECV 0 0 -
tcp 0 0 SYN_RECV 0 0 -

Also the apache forked child processes show normally in process list:

apache:~# ps axuwwf|grep -i apache
root 46748 0.0 0.0 112300 872 pts/1 S+ 18:07 0:00 \_ grep -i apache
root 42530 0.0 0.1 217392 6636 ? Ss Mar14 0:39 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 42535 0.0 0.0 147876 1488 ? S Mar14 0:01 \_ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
root 28747 0.0 0.1 218180 4792 ? Sl Mar14 0:00 \_ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 31787 0.0 0.1 219156 5832 ? S Mar14 0:00 | \_ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start

In spite of that, in any client browser to any of the Apache (Virtual hosts) websites, there is no HTML content returned…
This weird problem continues until the Apache webserver is retarted.
Once webserver is restarted everything is back to normal.
I use Apache Check Apache shell script set on few remote hosts to regularly check with nmap if port 80 (www) of my server is open and responding, anyways this script just checks if the open and reachable and thus using it was unable to detect Apache wasn't able to return back HTML content.
To work around the malfunctions I wrote tiny script –

The scripts idea is very simple;
A request is made a remote defined host with lynx text browser, then the output of lines is counted, if the output returned by lynx -dump is less than the number returned whether normally invoked, then the script triggers an apache init script restart.

I've set the script to periodically run in a cron job, every 5 minutes each hour.
# check if apache returns empty content with lynx and if yes restart and log it
*/5 * * * * /usr/sbin/ >/dev/null 2>&1

This is not perfect as sometimes still, there will be few minutes downtime, but at least the downside will not be few hours until I am informed ssh to the server and restart Apache manually

A quick way to download and set from cron execution my script every 5 minutes use:

apache:~# cd /usr/sbin
apache:/usr/sbin# wget -q
apache:/usr/sbin# chmod +x
apache:/usr/sbin# crontab -l > /tmp/file; echo '*/5 * * * *' /usr/sbin/ 2>&1 >/dev/null


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Recommended logrorate practices on heavy loaded (busy) Apache Linux servers

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Apache logrotate Debian good configuration for heavy loaded servers

If you are sys admin of Apache Webserver running on Debian Linux relying on logrorate to rorate logs, you might want to change the default way logroration is done.

Little changes in the way Apache log files are served on busy servers can have positive outcomes on the overall way the server CPU units burden. A good logrotation strategy can also prevent your server from occasional extra overheads or downtimes.

The way Debian GNU / Linux process logs is well planned for small servers, however the default logroration Apache routine doesn't fit well for servers which process millions of client requests each day.

I happen to administrate, few servers which are constantly under a heavy load and have occasionally overload troubles because of Debian's logrorate default mechanism.

To cope with the situation I have made few modifications to /etc/logrorate.d/apache2 and decided to share it here hoping, this might help you too.

1. Rotate Apache acccess.log log file daily instead of weekly

On Debian Apache's logrorate script is in /etc/logrotate.d/apache2

The default file content will be like so like so:

debian:~# cat /etc/logrotate.d/apache2
/var/log/apache2/*.log {
rotate 52
size 1G
create 640 root adm
if [ -f "`. /etc/apache2/envvars ; echo ${APACHE_PID_FILE:-/var/run/}`" ]; then
/etc/init.d/apache2 reload > /dev/null

To change the rotation from weekly to daily change:




2. Disable access.log log file gzip compression

By default apache2 logrotate script is tuned ot make compression of rotated file (exmpl: copy access.log to access.log.1 and gzip it, copy access.log to access.log.2 and gzip it etc.). On servers where logs are many gigabytes, once logrotate initiates its scheduled work it will have to compress an enormous log record of apache requests. On very busy Apache servers from my experience, just for a day the log could grow up to approximately 8 / 10 Gigabytes.
I'm sure there are more busy servers out there, which log files are growing to over 100GB for just a single day.
Gzipping a 100GB file piece takes an enormous load on the CPU, as well as often takes long time. When this logrotation gzipping occurs at a moment where the servers CPU cores are already heavy loaded from Apache serving HTTP requests, Apache server becomes inaccessible to most of the clients.
Then for end clients various oddities are experienced, for example Apache dropped connection errors, webserver returning empty pages, or simply inability to respond to the client browser.
Sometimes as a result of the overload, even secure shell connection to SSHD to the server is impossible …

To prevent your server from this roration overloads remove logrorate's default access.log gzipping by commenting:




3. Change maximum log roration by logrorate to be up to 30

By default logrorate is configured to create and keep up to 52 rotated and gzipped access.log files, changing this to a lower number is a good practice (in my view), in cases where log files grow daily to 10 or more GBs. Doing so will save a lot of disk space and reduce the chance the hard disk gets filled in because of the multiple rorated ungzipped enormous access.log files.

To tune the default keep max rorated logs to 30, change:

rotate 52

torotate 30

The way logrorate's apache log processing on RHEL / CentOS Linux is working better on high load servers, by default on CentOS logrorate is not configured to do log gzipping at all.

Here is the default /etc/logrorate.d/httpd script for
CentOS release 5.6 (Final)

[hipo@centos httpd]$ cat /etc/logrotate.d/httpd /var/log/httpd/*log {
/bin/kill -HUP `cat /var/run/ 2>/dev/null` 2> /dev/null || true


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How to Secure Apache on FreeBSD against Range header DoS vulnerability (affecting Apache 1.3/2.x)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

How to Secure Apache webserver on FreeBSD and CentOS against Range: header Denial of Service attack

Recently has become publicly known for the serious hole found in all Apache webserver versions 1.3.x and 2.0.x and 2.2.x. The info is to be found inside the security CVE-2011-3192

Apache remote denial of service is already publicly cirtuculating, since about a week and is probably to be used even more heavily in the 3 months to come. The exploit can be obtained from a mirror copy of #Apache httpd Remote Denial of Service (memory exhaustion) is for download here

The DoS script is known in the wild under the name PoC depends on perl ForkManager and thus in order to be properly run on FreeBSD, its necessery to install p5-Parallel-ForkManager bsd port :

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/devel/p5-Parallel-ForkManager
freebsd# make install && make install clean

Here is an example of the exploit running against an Apache webserver host.

freebsd# perl 50
host seems vuln
ATTACKING [using 50 forks]
ATTACKING [using 50 forks]

In about 30 seconds to 1 minute time the DoS attack with only 50 simultaneous connections is capable of overloading any vulnerable Apache server.

It causes the webserver to consume all the machine memory and memory swap and consequently makes the server to crash in most cases.
During the Denial of Service attack is in action access the websites hosted on the webserver becomes either hell slow or completely absent.

The DoS attack is quite a shock as it is based on an Apache range problem which started in year 2007.

Today, Debian has issued a new versions of Apache deb package for Debian 5 Lenny and Debian 6, the new packages are said to have fixed the issue.

I assume that Ubuntu and most of the rest Debian distrubtions will have the apache’s range header DoS patched versions either today or in the coming few days.
Therefore work around the issue on debian based servers can easily be done with the usual apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

On other Linux systems as well as FreeBSD there are work arounds pointed out, which can be implemented to close temporary the Apache DoS hole.

1. Limiting large number of range requests

The first suggested solution is to limit the lenght of range header requests Apache can serve. To implement this work raround its necessery to put at the end of httpd.conf config:

# Drop the Range header when more than 5 ranges.
# CVE-2011-3192
SetEnvIf Range (?:,.*?){5,5} bad-range=1
RequestHeader unset Range env=bad-range
# We always drop Request-Range; as this is a legacy
# dating back to MSIE3 and Netscape 2 and 3.
RequestHeader unset Request-Range
# optional logging.
CustomLog logs/range-CVE-2011-3192.log common env=bad-range
CustomLog logs/range-CVE-2011-3192.log common env=bad-req-range

2. Reject Range requests for more than 5 ranges in Range: header

Once again to implement this work around paste in Apache config file:

This DoS solution is not recommended (in my view), as it uses mod_rewrite to implement th efix and might be additionally another open window for DoS attack as mod_rewrite is generally CPU consuming.

# Reject request when more than 5 ranges in the Range: header.
# CVE-2011-3192
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP:range} !(bytes=[^,]+(,[^,]+){0,4}$|^$)
# RewriteCond %{HTTP:request-range} !(bytes=[^,]+(?:,[^,]+){0,4}$|^$)
RewriteRule .* - [F]

# We always drop Request-Range; as this is a legacy
# dating back to MSIE3 and Netscape 2 and 3.
RequestHeader unset Request-Range

3. Limit the size of Range request fields to few hundreds
To do so put in httpd.conf:

LimitRequestFieldSize 200

4. Dis-allow completely Range headers: via mod_headers Apache module

In httpd.conf put:

RequestHeader unset Range
RequestHeader unset Request-Range

This work around could create problems on some websites, which are made in a way that the Request-Range is used.

5. Deploy a tiny Apache module to count the number of Range Requests and drop connections in case of high number of Range: requests

This solution in my view is the best one, I’ve tested it and I can confirm on FreeBSD works like a charm.
To secure FreeBSD host Apache, against the Range Request: DoS using mod_rangecnt, one can literally follow the methodology explained in mod_rangecnt.c header:

freebsd# wget
# compile the mod_rangecnt module
freebsd# /usr/local/sbin/apxs -c mod_rangecnt.c
# install mod_rangecnt module to Apache
freebsd# /usr/local/sbin/apxs -i -a

Finally to load the newly installed mod_rangecnt, Apache restart is required:

freebsd# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/apache2 restart

I’ve tested the module on i386 FreeBSD install, so I can’t confirm this steps works fine on 64 bit FreeBSD install, I would be glad if I can hear from someone if mod_rangecnt is properly compiled and installed fine also on 6 bit BSD arch.

Deploying the mod_rangecnt.c Range: Header to prevent against the Apache DoS on 64 bit x86_amd64 CentOS 5.6 Final is also done without any pitfalls.

[root@centos ~]# uname -a;
Linux centos 2.6.18-194.11.3.el5 #1 SMP Mon Aug 30 16:19:16 EDT 2010 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
[root@centos ~]# /usr/sbin/apxs -c mod_rangecnt.c
/usr/lib64/apr-1/build/libtool --silent --mode=link gcc -o -rpath /usr/lib64/httpd/modules -module -avoid-version mod_rangecnt.lo
[root@centos ~]# /usr/sbin/apxs -i -a
Libraries have been installed in:
[root@centos ~]# /etc/init.d/httpd configtest
Syntax OK
[root@centos ~]# /etc/init.d/httpd restart
Stopping httpd: [ OK ]
Starting httpd: [ OK ]

After applying the mod_rangecnt patch if all is fine the memory exhaustion perl DoS script‘s output should be like so:

freebsd# perl 50
Host does not seem vulnerable

All of the above pointed work-arounds are only a temporary solution to these Grave Apache DoS byterange vulnerability , a few days after the original vulnerability emerged and some of the up-pointed work arounds were pointed. There was information, that still, there are ways that the vulnerability can be exploited.
Hopefully in the coming few weeks Apache dev team should be ready with rock solid work around to the severe problem.

In 2 years duration these is the second serious Apache Denial of Service vulnerability after before a one and a half year the so called Slowloris Denial of Service attack was capable to DoS most of the Apache installations on the Net.

Slowloris, has never received the publicity of the Range Header DoS as it was not that critical as the mod_range, however this is a good indicator that the code quality of Apache is slowly decreasing and might need a serious security evaluation.

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