[sf-lug] Hacked RHEL4/PHP4 server

Tom Haddon tom at greenleaftech.net
Thu May 22 08:57:02 PDT 2008

On Thu, 2008-05-22 at 07:56 -0700, Kristian Erik Hermansen wrote:
> Do all of the injected html links start with a common prefix for the
> file?  For instance "5-", like your example ?

They all match the pattern [0-9]-(.*)phentermine(.*).html. I'm beginning
to think the server must have been compromised after all. I am able to
create file of the same name as one of these with a test page and see
that it's served in place of the spam page. If I delete the page with
rm, the spam page shows up again. If I try to delete it again, it says
no such file.

I've put in place an apache redirect for the matching file types so that
if anyone is going to those URLs, they'll be redirected to the main

At this point, I'd have to advise the non-profit per Rick's comments to
pretty much start from scratch with this server and/or have verio clean
up the mess...

Thanks, Tom

> On 5/21/08, Tom Haddon <tom at greenleaftech.net> wrote:
> > Hi Folks,
> >
> > I'm hoping I can marshall the resources of the LUG to help me get a
> > hacked server back under control. Here's the situation...
> >
> > I used to work for a non-profit back in the early 2000's that did health
> > resource information, and while working for them I wrote my first ever
> > web application using PHP/PostgreSQL. It was a cancer resource guide,
> > showing what resources were available to patients and families in a
> > local area.
> >
> > Needless to say it was terribly coded, but it worked. And worked fine
> > while I was at the non-profit, and for a good few years after I left
> > until the non-profit went out of business. Then I was approached by
> > another non-profit that had been using the web application (it was
> > skinnable, so other orgs could have their own version) and asked I could
> > help them move the site to their own server as they'd like to continue
> > using it. So I did, about a year or so ago. They have a Virtual Private
> > Server with Verio that runs RHEL4 and I have an account with root access
> > on this. I'm not really the administrator for this server (although I do
> > have root access) - I was paid just to setup the website and make sure
> > the backups and such were in place. I was told that Verio would be
> > responsible for the day to day management of the server, but I'm not
> > sure how true that is. Other vendors do have access to the server, and
> > make changes to other websites hosted there.
> >
> > Today I got an email from them that Google had removed them from their
> > search listing because there was a whole bunch of pharmacy spam embedded
> > in their website. This was in the form:
> >
> > <div id="localnews" style="position:absolute; left:0px; top:0px;
> > height:1px; overflow:hidden;">
> > <a
> > href="http://EXTERNAL_URL_OF_WEBSITE/5-cheapest-phentermine-prescription.html"
> > title="cheapest phentermine prescription">cheapest phentermine
> > prescription</a>
> > [..]
> > [..]
> > </div>
> >
> > This was embedded in a header page that is included in all pages listed
> > on the website. It's a custom written application, so they would have
> > had to get fairly familiar with the layout of the site to know which one
> > to modify to have the most affect. As I'm writing this I'm suspecting
> > that this suggests they had shell access to the server to be able to
> > inspect files on the filesystem, whereas when I was investigating it, I
> > assumed they exploited some PHP bug and got in that way.
> >
> > What I've done so far:
> >
> > - Removed the offending content from the header page (the bit I've
> > pasted above)
> > - Changed permissions on all the files and folders in the DocumentRoot
> > to be owned by root and 644 perms.
> >
> > I think the change was made around the 5th May, from looking at the
> > apache logs. Looking at the "last" command, there was no access to the
> > server around then. There was ftp user access around the 25th April, but
> > after that the next access is me.
> >
> > So there are a few things confusing me:
> >
> > - The link that was each of these items was linking to was on the same
> > host as the site itself, but I still can't find the pages that it's
> > linking to on the filesystem. I've confirmed they are getting 200 OK
> > responses in the apache log, so I know it's not a 404 error that's being
> > redirected somewhere, or that it's actually being served from another
> > server. But I can't find the files themselves. So in the example above,
> > I go to the DocumentRoot and look
> > for 5-cheapest-phentermine-prescription.html but can't find anything. I
> > grep for some content that I know is on that page, but nothing. Any
> > ideas on how I can debug where/how these files are being served from?
> > - How did they actually modify the content? Through a PHP exploit, or
> > shell access?
> >
> > Any help appreciated.
> >
> > Thanks, Tom
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > sf-lug mailing list
> > sf-lug at linuxmafia.com
> > http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/sf-lug
> >

More information about the sf-lug mailing list