Assertion in ESI Variable Assignment

Squid is able to process Edge Side Includes (ESI) pages when it acts as a reverse proxy. By default, this processing is enabled by default, and can be ‘triggered’ by any page whose response can be manipulated to return a single response header, and content. ESI is an xml-based markup language which, in layman terms, can be used to cache specific parts of a single webpage, thus allowing for the caching of static content on an otherwise dynamically created page.

The Issue

The ESI syntax includes a directive called <esi:assign>. This directive can be used to assign the contents of a custom variable. For example, one could use the following assignment:

<esi:assign name="word" value="never gonna" />

and then use it throughout a page, such as:

<esi:vars name="$(word)"/> give you up, <esi:vars name="$(word)"/> let you down.

which would print never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down.

When this sort of syntax is used, Squid parses the name component in order to define the variable for future use. However, the issue is that there are no checks whether this name is well-formed before it undergoes parsing, and may actually be non-existent. For example, the following (invalid) ESI syntax could be used:

<html xmlns:esi="http://www.edge-delivery.org/esi/1.0">

Without going into too much detail, the issue is that an empty character buffer is passed to the initialization of a String type, akin to:

String("", 0)

where the 0 here means length-0. (For reference, this is done inESIAssign::process, which uses varState->addVariable (name.rawBuf(), name.size(), value); with name.size() == 0).

Passing an empty character buffer to the String type results in an assertion:

assertion failed: String.cc:106: "str"

The example I have given is a real example. This is the only case in ESI’s whole codebase which passes a non-existent char buffer to String.