Mod_ruby security


I have a quiestion regarding mod_ruby security, hope someone might help
me out.

Suppose, I have a local user on my server, who has a chroot jail,
scponly web-home folder to upload .rhtml (or .rb) files, that apache
executes by mod_ruby. At the default safe level (=1) he can execute code

% expr = %{"/etc/postfix/")}
% result = eval(expr)
% puts result

She can see globally readable files on the server while his code is
running in the name of the apache user. The same happens with
“RubySafeLevel 2”. With 3 or 4, the user cannot access these files, but
actually he cannot do anything reasonable at all, so that is not really
an option. My question is, can I do something similar to PHP-s
safe_mode, where the running code is jailed into its folder somehow?
Or any other solution?

Thx in advance!

p.s: changing acces rights of all files is s.g. I don’t want to do
(fighting debian file acc.rights policy on hundreds of files) that’s why
I like scponly/jailroot


Fortunatelly many hostings provide mongrel&co for their clients.

thanks for the exhaustive answer :slight_smile:


On 1/6/07, Matteo C. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

question is old but my searches on the web weren’t succesful…
[Note: I have not studied mod_ruby internals. I’m building on the
statement that all scripts run in the same interpreter]

There are several things a script can do:

  1. call your objects’ methods - enumerate all objects (via
    ObjectSpace.each_object), methods (via Object#methods) and call
    private methods via Object#send. The similar for variables and
    constants. Call any code in the context of the object either via
    adding new method or using instance_eval

  2. modify your classes/objects - the classes are open, trace/debug
    your code via set_trace_func and/or rdebug/breakpoint etc.

  3. see your source code using __SCRIPT_LINES

  4. the other script runs with the same privileges as your script, so
    it sees the same files - configs, data, etc.

In summary, the script can do almost anything security-wise.

anyway… let’s suppose I’ve my brand new application with its database
class which opens a connection to the db with the correct user and
password, and a session class wich keeps track of user sessions, login,
etc. then I put my program on a web hosting service

how should I write my classes so that a malicious script running on the
same web hosting service can’t access my db or get an authenticated
session by poking with my classes?

This is usually solved by not using mod_ruby :wink: The other way running
your script using webrick/mongrel/mod_fcgi within its own interpreter
and in case of mongrel/webrick reverse proxying them with an optional
load balancer (apache/pond/lighttpd/ngix/…) That way, each script
has its own interpreter running under different user. (From the above
the optimal one seems to be a bunch of mongrels behind something -
apache/pond/… - see

_why was working on a sandbox that would allow separating code within
one interpreter, but I don’t know how far has he got (see

Finally something can be done using $SAFE_MODE, although that’s not a
fix for all of the above problems.

Problem with the above solutions might be that the webhosting provider
has to install them (unless you have a dedicated host or a VPS).
Fortunatelly many hostings provide mongrel&co for their clients.