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Null bytes related issues

As PHP uses the underlying C functions for filesystem related operations, it may handle null bytes in a quite unexpected way. As null bytes denote the end of a string in C, strings containing them won't be considered entirely but rather only until a null byte occurs. The following example shows a vulnerable code that demonstrates this problem:

Example #1 Script vulnerable to null bytes

<?php
$file 
$_GET['file']; // "../../etc/passwd\0"
if (file_exists('/home/wwwrun/'.$file.'.php')) {
    
// file_exists will return true as the file /home/wwwrun/../../etc/passwd exists
    
include '/home/wwwrun/'.$file.'.php';
    
// the file /etc/passwd will be included
}
?>

Therefore, any tainted string that is used in a filesystem operation should always be validated properly. Here is a better version of the previous example:

Example #2 Correctly validating the input

<?php
$file 
$_GET['file']; 

// Whitelisting possible values
switch ($file) {
    case 
'main':
    case 
'foo':
    case 
'bar':
        include 
'/home/wwwrun/include/'.$file.'.php';
        break;
    default:
        include 
'/home/wwwrun/include/main.php';
}
?>

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