The Apache HTTP Server is an open-source HTTP server for modern operating systems including UNIX, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS/X and Netware. The goal of this project is to provide a secure, efficient and extensible server that provides HTTP services observing the current HTTP standards. Apache has been the most popular web server on the Internet since April of 1996.

Problem Description

During routine testing, an integer overflow was found in apache2-mpm-worker 2.2.19 in the function ap_pregsub called from mod-setenvif. The issue affects all versions from 2.0.x to 2.0.64 and 2.2.x to 2.2.21, not depending on the mode of operation (worker, prefork, ..). When a header field is mangled using SetEnvIf, the new environment variable data can be multiples of the size of the submitted header field. When ap_pregsub from server/util.c calculates the buffer size using

        else if (no < nmatch && pmatch[no].rm_so < pmatch[no].rm_eo) {
            len += pmatch[no].rm_eo - pmatch[no].rm_so;

the length value overflows and is used in a subsequent allocation call of buffer too small:

    dest = dst = apr_pcalloc(p, len + 1);

The subsequent filling of the buffer with user-supplied data leads to buffer overflow. Even without overflowing, the allocation of significant amounts of server memory for excessivly large environment variables should be considered a problem also.


Depending on the input data, exploitation of this issue leads to:

To trigger this issue, mod_setenvif must be enabled and the attacker has to be able to place a crafted .htaccess file on the server. Since the triggering of the exploit might depend on a magic header field, the malicious .htaccess might be placed as backdoor in web-content .zip files or could be stored dormant on the server until activation by the corresponding magic request.


On workaround is to disable the module when not needed. Another one is to disable use of .htaccess on all user-modificable locations by setting AllowOverride None on all corresponding directories.


The fix for the integer overflow in ap_pregsub (server/util.c,) is tivial, e.g.

        else if (no < nmatch && pmatch[no].rm_so < pmatch[no].rm_eo) {
            len += pmatch[no].rm_eo - pmatch[no].rm_so;
// Return NULL on error
            if(len<oldlen) return(NULL);

Apart from the overflow, a discussion on reasonable sizes for environment variables should be started to deal with the memory consumption problem. Without limits, another problematic section is in ap_pregsub (server/util.c,) should be fixed also. At the moment, the return value from from apr_pcalloc is not checked, leading to a NULL-pointer dereference. Fix

    dest = dst = apr_pcalloc(p, len + 1);
    if(!dest) return(NULL);

Problem description and discussion:

Bug Tracking and Fixing:

Last modified 20130313
Contact e-mail: me (%)