The Linux kernel exposes lots of interesting information via the
/proc filesystem. For example,
/proc/net/udp expose information about all tcp and udp sessions on the server.
In the usual Linux kernel style, these files are freely readable by all users on the Linux system. This becomes a bit of a problem on a multi-tenant system like Heroku. Heroku deploy many customers apps on each of their Amazon EC2 servers. So if you create an app skeleton, deploy to Heroku and shell out and you can see all the other apps tcp and udp sessions:
$ heroku run console
Running `console` attached to terminal... up, run.1971
irb(main):001:0> system("netstat | grep ESTAB | head -n 10")
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:33113 ip-10-40-86-97.ec:27018 ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:57256 ip-10-60-122:postgresql ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:59268 domU-12-31-3:postgresql ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:38536 collector6.newrelic:www ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:54459 ip-10-189-243-92.:27017 ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:50495 ip-10-151-25-11.ec:6242 ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:53192 ip-10-114-25:postgresql ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:47405 188.8.131.52:https ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:39011 collector6.newrelic:www ESTABLISHED
tcp 0 0 22d87d80-deb7-415:52237 ip-10-218-31-147.:42002 ESTABLISHED
If the netstat command (or system method) is not available, you can just read and parse the file in Ruby.
It’s an information leak, so I think it is quite low risk but still a hint that Heroku’s process separation still isn’t as strict as one might hope (I still remember David Chen’s pretty shocking discovery back in 2011)
There are a few ways to fix this kind of problem. Mandatory access control systems, like AppArmor can prevent processes reading these files. The Grsecurity security patches have lots of protections against proc based information leaking too, these files included.
I reported my findings to Heroku’s security team back in September 2012. I had some problems getting timely responses at first but after whining on Twitter (in March 2013) I got lots of attention from them (and an apology for lack of response). Complaining on Twitter is a clearly a powerful tool and to be used only wisely; and maybe sometimes when drunk.
Anyway, it seems they had been working hard on this and just failing to update me; it is quite a major change for them and a low priority bug imo. They’ve fixed it by properly virtualising networking too. It’s mentioned on their change log but it doesn’t go into too much detail. Important point is that it’s fixed.