The Ruby programming language, which has become popular as the basis for web 2.0 sites such as Twitter, contains serious security flaws that could allow attackers to take over an organisation's web server, according to the Ruby development team.
The "disturbing" flaws, which were disclosed on Friday, could affect nearly any typical Ruby-based web application, according to Thomas Ptacek, founder of security firm Matasano.
The five bugs affect Ruby version 1.8 up to 1.8.7-p21 and version 1.9 up to 1.9.0-1, according to the Ruby development team.
Users can remedy the problem by upgrading to a patched version of Ruby, developers said, with patches available on the Ruby language site.
Popular websites such as Twitter, Scribd, Hulu and the Facebook application Friends for Sale use Ruby, along with the Rails framework, to deploy sophisticated features.
At least three of the published vulnerabilities are easily exploitable and allow normal Ruby code to corrupt the memory of the standard interpreter MRI, Matasano's Ptacek said in an advisory on Friday.
"They involve integer handling errors in the native code backing Ruby’s Array, String, and Bignum classes," Ptacek wrote. "These are core classes in Ruby, and don’t depend on the libraries or extensions that programs load."
He said organisations running Ruby-based web applications should upgrade their servers as soon as possible.
"Why is this so disturbing? These vulnerabilities are likely to crop up in just about any average Ruby web application," he wrote. "The conditions under which the vulnerabilities are exploitable depend on the Ruby programs you are running. But don’t gamble. Update as soon as you can."
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