How To Steal Java Web App Source Code From Apache Tomcat 6.0.16

03 August 2011

There I was minding my own business, browsing few sites when I got this 404 error:

HTTP Status 404 - /innocent/doesnotexists

type Status report
message /innocent/doesnotexists
description The requested resource (/innocent/doesnotexists) is not available.

Apache Tomcat/6.0.16

I saw 404s all the time it's not even funny. Instinctively I just want to hit back, but then I saw Apache Tomcat/6.0.16. This particular version was released on 8th February 2008. 3 years ago. Interesting. Maybe, there's something we can do here.

I'm not familiar with Apache Tomcat at all, and I don't code Java. Maybe it's a good time to learn then. First thing is just to search for Apache Tomcat/6.0.16 vulnerabilities. The lowest hanging fruit was Directory Traversal, CVE-2008-2938. It was stated in official Apache Tomcat 6 vulnerabilities page that the root cause of this vulnerability is JVM, not Tomcat itself. But whatever, it seems simple enough, worth a shot.

This entry on Security Tracker: Tomcat UTF-8 'AllowLinking' Java Bug Lets Remote Users Traverse the Directory shows how to exploit this. You just need encoded dots %c0%ae%c0%ae which represents ... Seems a no brainer.

Ok, so now we know we probably could download files. But we don't know what file we want to pull. Time to learn about Java and Tomcat.

Deploying Web Applications to Tomcat from O'Reilly shows us exactly that. It was a post from 2001, but quick check on other search results showed that the deployment hasn't changed much. The most interesting part was on page 5 where we learned that Java Web App file would be packaged to a single .war file and stored in the web app's directory. Wait, does that mean we can just download .war file and we would get the complete source code of the app? Really?

I guess there's only one way to find out then.

  wget ''

Output --REMOVED-- Connecting to connected. HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK Length: 91599064 (87M) Saving to: `innocent.war'

2% [==> ] 2,206,947 728K/s

Nice. Now to extract the package we can use jar command.

  jar xvf innocent.war

That will extract everything to current directory. While it is nice to see everything is in there, we can't do anything much because all the .class file are unreadable to human being. There are many decompilers out there. Back then I used jad but it's no longer being maintained. Mirror download available from Today I just downloaded JD-GUI, that works too.

UPDATE: This will decompile .class to .java in src directory using jad.

  find . -iname "*.class" | xargs /path/to/jad -r -sjava -d src
  cd src

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