In the world of network security, it pays to always remember that many (if not most!) security bugs start off their lives as seemingly innocuous “regular” bugs, and it’s only by diligently considering how aberrant behavior – say, incorrect results returned for particular inputs or a mere “stability issue” that turns out to actually be a use-after-free causing the observed crashes – could be abused by determined malicious actors that the underlying security implications become obvious. This has great benefits: for instance, it can be argued that it wasn’t until Microsoft started taking BSoDs that could be triggered by unprivileged users seriously, recognizing them for the open backdoors most of them were, that Windows actually became usably stable.
Of course, then there are the bugs that have such blatantly obvious security implications that it would be hard to qualify them as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Someone encountering such a bug, even if not particularly security-minded, would be forced to immediately recognize the risk they pose even if only because they have to deal with its consequences. This post is about such a security bug that I encountered in the same vein as many others in the past: simply trying to do something completely unrelated and running into a vulnerability that made the task at hand that much harder.