Opened 4 years ago

Closed 4 years ago

Last modified 4 years ago

#11693 closed enhancement (fixed)

Create security patch for OpenSSH (CVE-2018-20685)

Reported by: Douglas R. Reno Owned by: Douglas R. Reno
Priority: highest Milestone: 8.4
Component: BOOK Version: SVN
Severity: normal Keywords:


There is an authentication bypass issue in OpenSSH, done by adding a . or a blank filename in SCP:

In OpenSSH 7.9, scp.c in the scp client allows remote SSH servers to bypass intended access restrictions via the filename of . or an empty filename.

Here's the advisory text that I received:

scp client multiple vulnerabilities
The latest version of this advisory is available at:


SCP clients from multiple vendors are susceptible to a malicious scp server performing
unauthorized changes to target directory and/or client output manipulation.


Many scp clients fail to verify if the objects returned by the scp server match those
it asked for. This issue dates back to 1983 and rcp, on which scp is based. A separate
flaw in the client allows the target directory attributes to be changed arbitrarily.
Finally, two vulnerabilities in clients may allow server to spoof the client output.


Malicious scp server can write arbitrary files to scp target directory, change the
target directory permissions and to spoof the client output.


The discovered vulnerabilities, described in more detail below, enables the attack
described here in brief.

1. The attacker controlled server or Man-in-the-Middle(*) attack drops .bash_aliases
   file to victim's home directory when the victim performs scp operation from the
   server. The transfer of extra files is hidden by sending ANSI control sequences
   via stderr. For example:

   user@local:~$ scp user@remote:readme.txt .
   readme.txt                                         100%  494     1.6KB/s   00:00

2. Once the victim launches a new shell, the malicious commands in .bash_aliases get

*) Man-in-the-Middle attack does require the victim to accept the wrong host


1. CWE-20: scp client improper directory name validation [CVE-2018-20685]

The scp client allows server to modify permissions of the target directory by using empty
("D0777 0 \n") or dot ("D0777 0 .\n") directory name.

2. CWE-20: scp client missing received object name validation [CVE-2019-6111]

Due to the scp implementation being derived from 1983 rcp [1], the server chooses which
files/directories are sent to the client. However, scp client only perform cursory
validation of the object name returned (only directory traversal attacks are prevented).
A malicious scp server can overwrite arbitrary files in the scp client target directory.
If recursive operation (-r) is performed, the server can manipulate subdirectories
as well (for example overwrite .ssh/authorized_keys).

The same vulnerability in WinSCP is known as CVE-2018-20684.

3. CWE-451: scp client spoofing via object name [CVE-2019-6109]

Due to missing character encoding in the progress display, the object name can be used
to manipulate the client output, for example to employ ANSI codes to hide additional
files being transferred.

4. CWE-451: scp client spoofing via stderr [CVE-2019-6110]

Due to accepting and displaying arbitrary stderr output from the scp server, a
malicious server can manipulate the client output, for example to employ ANSI codes
to hide additional files being transferred.


Proof of concept malicious scp server will be released at a later date.

Vulnerable versions

The following software packages have some or all vulnerabilities:

                   ver      #1  #2  #3  #4
OpenSSH scp        <=7.9    x   x   x   x
PuTTY PSCP         ?        -   -   x   x
WinSCP scp mode    <=5.13   -   x   -   -

Tectia SSH scpg3 is not affected since it exclusively uses sftp protocol.


1. OpenSSH

1.1 Switch to sftp if possible

1.2 Apply the following patches to scp:

1.3 Alternatively apply the following patch to harden scp against most server-side
    manipulation attempts:

    NOTE: This unofficial patch may cause problems if the the remote and local shells
    don't agree on the way glob() pattern matching works. YMMV.

2. PuTTY

2.1 No fix is available yet

3. WinSCP

3.1. Upgrade to WinSCP 5.14 or later

Similar or prior work

1. CVE-2000-0992 - scp overwrites arbitrary files



Issue tracking

Arch Linux

Debian GNU/Linux

Gentoo Linux

Red Hat Linux

SUSE Linux





These vulnerabilities were discovered by Harry Sintonen / F-Secure Corporation.


2018.08.08  initial discovery of vulnerabilities #1 and #2
2018.08.09  reported vulnerabilities #1 and #2 to OpenSSH
2018.08.10  OpenSSH acknowledged the vulnerabilities
2018.08.14  discovered & reported vulnerability #3 to OpenSSH
2018.08.15  discovered & reported vulnerability #4 to OpenSSH
2018.08.30  reported PSCP vulnerabilities (#3 and #4) to PuTTY developers
2018.08.31  reported WinSCP vulnerability (#2) to WinSCP developers
2018.09.04  WinSCP developers reported the vulnerability #2 fixed
2018.11.12  requested a status update from OpenSSH
2018.11.16  OpenSSH fixed vulnerability #1
2019.01.07  requested a status update from OpenSSH
2019.01.08  requested CVE assignments from MITRE
2019.01.10  received CVE assignments from MITRE
2019.01.11  public disclosure of the advisory
2019.01.14  added a warning about the potential issues caused by the patch
2019.01.15  added issue tracking section (Arch, Debian, Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu)
2019.01.15  fixed patch for BROKEN_ONE_BYTE_DIRENT_D_NAME
2019.01.17  updated Ubuntu issue tracking, added Gentoo issue tracking
2019.02.01  added PuTTY PSCP issue tracking
2019.02.09  added links to official patches to mitigation section

Change History (3)

comment:1 by Douglas R. Reno, 4 years ago

Owner: changed from blfs-book to Douglas R. Reno
Status: newassigned

comment:2 by Douglas R. Reno, 4 years ago

Resolution: fixed
Status: assignedclosed

Patch added at r3892 Fixed at r21229

comment:3 by Douglas R. Reno, 4 years ago

This was addressed upstream in 8.0. Adding this comment as further clarification, to avoid confusion and prevent duplicating information in the errata.

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