SECURITY ADVISORY: web services (Aug. 11, 2011)

Aug. 11, 2011

The FreePBX development team has identified with some zero day security vulnerabilities related to httpd and php. These vulnerabilities may allow a remote user to gain full root control over a system, and are present in lots of popular asterisk-related distro’s.

The FreePBX development team strongly urges all user of the FreePBX Distro to immediately upgrade their systems and patch these vulnerabilities. Additionally, users are reminded never to keep their web port accessible to the internet.

To secure your system, please download the latest scripts found [url=]here[/url]. Please remember that the upgrade scripts must be executed sequentially.

A big round of applause to my colleagues at [url=]Schmooze Com., Inc.[/url] for their tireless dedication to the community, for the sleepless nights they spent working on this (and many other!) issue, and for their swift response in releasing a patch to protect the users of the distro.

UPDATE: it seems this post has left a host of questions in its wake – please read the following replies to see if your questions have been answered yet, or reply with them if they havent been!

FreePBX 2.10 sneak peak: IVR’s

As in any pbx, IVR’s have always been an integral component of FreePBX. For the better and for the extremely annoying, companies have been filtering inbound calls with IVR’s for just about forever. While we can’t change people’s mentality (on both sides of the call) we CAN attempt to provide the best posible experience for those fortunate enough to be using FreePBX.

In FreePBX 2.10, we have rebuilt and rewritten almost every single line of code in IVR’s. In addition, there are many framework changes in place to provide a more comfortable experience over all. Here are some quick stats from the svn log so far:

[root@server admin]# svn diff -r12198:head|diffstat
assets/js/jquery.hotkeys.js | 99 +
assets/js/script.legacy.js | 20
bootstrap.php | 45
common/mainstyle.css | 5 | 140 +-
helpers/Email.php | 2062 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
helpers/form_helper.php | 1056 +++++++++++++++
helpers/freepbx_helpers.php | 7
i18n/amp.pot | 68
libraries/ampuser.class.php | 78 -
libraries/bootstrap-utility.functions.php | 76 -
libraries/components.class.php | 62
libraries/featurecodes.class.php | 84 -
libraries/featurecodes.functions.php | 84 +
libraries/legacy.functions.php | 60
libraries/utility.functions.php | 162 ++
libraries/view.functions.php | 1
17 files changed, 3793 insertions(+), 316 deletions(-)

While those aren’t all IVR related, all these changes are designed to provide you with better FreePBX experience. Pretty nice! Thats for the stats, now for the IVR changes. The first thing you will notice is a cleaner welcome screen. We’ve removed the clutter when you first hit the IVR page, most people didn’t read it or know what to do with out it, anyway:

[url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url]

Just one simple button and your in! On the IVR edit page, there have always been some quirks that bothered me. Here is the old page:


Why did every IVR start off with the name “Unnamed”. I mean, isnt that like an an oxymoron?! What is the i-dest/t-dest thingy? When are the “Messages” played? And did you ever try to add entires to an IVR and see the WHOLE PAGE REFRESH?! And wait until you see the code that generated all this…


Here are the changes we’ve made:
[list] [*]We’ve streamlined the user experience to be more inline with other FreePBX modules (take Directory for example, notice it has a similar “feel”).
[*]Unlike in the old module your IVR doesn’t get saved even before you make you create it (hence IVR’s were always named). This also allows the gui to load faster.
[*]We’ve added a description fields, where you can save an explanation and/or notes about this IVR.
[*]We’ve added finer control over invalid and timeout destinations. Now you can set a recording to be played when the i or t extensions are hit (i.e. when the user presses something invalid or if the the user enters nothing) before the IVR loops back to the beginning, in addition to the recording to be played right before transferring the call to the actual destination. Or you can disable the i or t destinations completely.
[*]You can add entires with a simple click – no page refresh! Add as many as you need, and delete them intuitively.
[*]We’ve moved part of the Direct Dial setting out of the IVR module and in to the Directory module (where it belongs)
[*]We now hook in to Queues and delete the IVR Break Out Menu if you delete the IVR
[*]When looking at the IVR page, you can collapse any individual section to allow you to focus on another with less clutter in the way
[*]We’ve included new sound files that more accurately reflect the message you want to present to your users. Obviously, you can override them with your own should you chose to do so.
[*]We have plenty of under the hood changes, not the least of which include using the fancy new HTML5 Webforms validation instead of the old clunky javascript errors
[url=][img=320×80][/img][/url] [*]An extremely clean code base using a (poor-mans version of) MVC design to make bugfixes and future additions as paneless as posible.
[*]A leaner dialplan for quicker call execution when posible.
[*]HOOKS!!! There are already some interesting 3rd party modules in the works that can easily hook in to IVR to bring some very nice and demanded additions. You can create your own modules as well and have them hook in to IVR to extend the module.

So, where is the new module? Its in the 2.10 branch, currently in development. While we don’t recommend it yet for production, feel free to download it to a test/development server and take it for a spin. Otherwise, just keep tight and wait for the official release of 2.10 – the new module will be included by default and your old IVRs will all be migrated over automatically.

On a final note, I wanted to point out this work was generously sponsored by my wonderful company and driving force behind FreePBX: [url=]Schmooze Com. Inc.[/url]. From a turnkey premise PBX to a carrier-grade white label hosted solution, Schmooze is the leading innovator in the market. Visit or call today. Thank you!

RFC: Backup & Restore

There is a forum thread accepting comments, ideas, and suggestion for new features/improvements in the Backup & Restore module. Head [url=]over there now[/url] if you have any thoughts on how the module can be improved.

High Availability Backup and Restore

In our never ending quest to make FreePBX the best phone system that doesn’t require money to buy (and even better than most that do cost money…), allow us to introduce you to the latest features in the Backup & Restore module. [url=/news/2010-05-09/preview-the-all-new-directory]Last week[/url] we alluded to a critical server error, but left you guessing as to how we address that. This is a big step in that direction.

Along with the kind assistance provided by some customers of [url=/support-and-professional-services]FreePBX Professional Support[/url] (in the form of time donated for a feature they needed for their business), the boys over at Schmoozecom (disclaimer: including yours truly) have once again surpassed all expectations. As of FreePBX 2.8, (currently in beta – more on that later) the Backup module includes built in support for High Availability clustering!


The following is an interview I had with Me (aka myself), elaborating on the new features:

[b]I: So, what is this new HA (High Availability) feature, and why are we so excited with it?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] To ensure that their critical infrastructure maintains a high level of reliability, many business seek out HA solutions of one type of another. To that end, we have introduced an automated capability for a designated server (herein: backup server) to periodically backup a production server (herein: primary server) and to restore said backup on the backup server. This ensures that the backup server always has a fresh copy of the primary server’s settings, and is ready to take over should the primary server fail.

[b]I: Billions of bilious blistering barnacles – that’s not true HA! True HA means the backups in real time and instant hand off between the two servers?![/b] [b]Me:[/b] Actually, according to ( wait for it – you’ll never guess!) Wikipedia, HA is [i]“is a system design … to ensures a certain degree of operational continuity…“.[/i] While there may be some benefit to having both the backups and hand-offs in real-time, such solutions can to be overly complex and way above the requirements of many organizations. Additionally, such solution tend to require a unique and complex setup with additional components not usually installed on FreePBX based distributions. Being OS agnostic, FreePBX is best not left to deal with the configuration and maintenance of such solutions. Instead, FreePBX takes a simplistic approach, removing much obscurity and confusion from the picture. Keep in mind, however, that FreePBX’s HA implementation can be used as part of a greater HA solution, perhaps including real-time fail-over support.

[b]I: So, how does FreePBX backup a server?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] The backup server can perform backups at any requested interval – ranging from every minute (not recommended for most scenarios) to multiple times per hour/day/week/month, etc. It then restores the backup to itself, wiping away any previous configurations, and replacing them with the latest setting from the production server.

Optionally, the backup server can be configured NOT to restore the setting locally, and act as a storage area for backing up MANY primary servers. In this configuration, the backup server keeps copies of backups handy, ready to be restored locally in the event of a failure to any of the primary servers. Please note that in this scenario, the backup server will continue to function as a backup server, even in the capacity of a surrogate to the failed production server.

[b]I: How does production move to the backup server?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] As mentioned previously, on its own – it doesn’t. The sysadmin is required to manually change the ip address of the server so that all peers can find it. This also allows the sysadmin more control of the switching over process, more notification to error’s and an incentive to ensure that the primary server doesn’t fail in the first place!

Additionally, there are services that can do the fail over automatically, but those are beyond the scope of this discussion. Apparently, these can be enabled in certain routers as well.

[b]I: Great! This is the perfect way to backup my CDR’s![/b] [b]Me:[/b] Actually, if you require real-time backups of cdr’s, your probably better off with a master-slave setup for your database (for the cdrs that is).

[b]I: After a backup is restored, what happens to my trunks – will they automatically try to register to my provider and ‘steal’ the incoming calls from the primary server?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] No. FreePBX requires that you click the orange bar at the top of the screen for any changed settings to go in to affect. This can be done manually or, if you’re using other elements as part of you HA solution, programmaticly by calling [code]/var/lib/asterisk/bin/module_admin reload[/code]. If you have traditional PSTN trunks (not VoIP), additional measures will have to be taken to connect those lines to your PBX and assure they are up and running.

[b]I: Bougainvillea! How do I backup the backup server?![/b] [b]Me:[/b] Exposed now in the GUI are many different options that can be run after a backup is complete. For example, copy the backup to an ftp server, ssh the backup to another host, or even have it emailed to you.

[b]I: Doesn’t the ability to pull a backup off a primary server pose a security risk?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] We have gone to great lengths to ensure that your phone system remains safe and secure throughout this process. The backups are all executed over ssh and encrypted with the public key.

[b]I: Public keys rock! (Uh, What are public keys?)[/b] [b]Me:[/b] Public/private keys are a method to encrypt data sent over insecure connections – easily considered one of the securest method in the world. See here for more info.

[b]I: Right, I knew that! But just to make sure, can you ‘remind’ me how to set up ssh keys?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] That’s probably something better left for the wiki/forums, but here is a very, very, very quick primer (designed for Cent OS systems, assuming asterisk is running as Linux user asterisk):
[code] sudo -u asterisk ssh-keygen
hit [enter] hit [enter] hit [enter] [/code] Then copy the public key to the primary server:
[code]sudo -u asterisk ssh-copy-id -i /var/lib/asterisk/.ssh/ root@[/code] Your output should look something like this:
[code] [root@localhost /]# sudo -u asterisk ssh-keygen
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/var/lib/asterisk/.ssh/id_rsa):
Created directory ‘/var/lib/asterisk/.ssh’.
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in /var/lib/asterisk/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /var/lib/asterisk/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
ae:2d:fd:b7:19:d3:e8:34:8a:a9:7d:76:1c:71:c4:a8 asterisk@localhost.localdomain

[root@localhost /]# sudo -u asterisk ssh-copy-id -i /var/lib/asterisk/.ssh/

The authenticity of host ‘ (’ can’t be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 8e:ae:6a:49:bb:1b:1b:91:3f:02:4f:65:ab:e7:5e:6b.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added ‘,’ (RSA) to the list of known hosts.’s password:
Now try logging into the machine, with “ssh ‘'”, and check in:


to make sure we haven’t added extra keys that you weren’t expecting.
[root@localhost /]#

[/code] [b]I: Duh! Now, what do I need to do in the backup module?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] Under Remote Backup Options, put in the hostname or IP address of the primary server, the user name (probably root), and the private ssh key (if you followed the steps above, that should be: [code]/var/lib/asterisk/.ssh/id_rsa[/code]). To restore the backup immediately, check “Restore to this server”.
[url=/files/images/ha-backup-opts.png][img=235×75]/files/images/ha-backup-opts.png[/img][/url] [b]I: Great, I’m all set. One last thing – why don’t I see these options in my backup module?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] These options were included starting with FreePBX 2.8, currently in beta. Feel free to start beta testing 2.8! Have a look [url=/news/2010-05-24/freepbx-2-8-beta2]here[/url] for more info.

[b]I: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. Is there anything else you would like to add?[/b] [b]Me:[/b] Yes. As of [url=/news/2010-05-09/preview-the-all-new-directory]last week[/url] there were some issues threatening the continuity of Custom Contexts as of FreePBX 2.8. Congratulation and a tip of the hat to all those that step up to [url=/bounties/custom-context]contribute and help resolve[/url] the issue!

[b]Moshe Brevda[/b]

Preview the all-new Directory

Do you use the Dial-by-Name option of the current FreePBX Directory? If no, read on as you might find there is goodness to come. If yes, have you ever wanted to add a user with no voicemail? have your admin called instead of you? wanted to add a Ring Group or Queue to it, call an external cell phone, or more?

The current Dial-by-Name directory achieves some basic goals but has always left a lot to be desired. In a lot of use cases it was plagued with issues that made it less than desirable and in my opinion often not viable.

If all your users had voice mail boxes, and all your users were on the same system, and none of your users were reachable via Queues, Ring Groups, or Custom Extensions, and you didn’t need to exclude any voice mail user from the list, and you’re happy with the default prompts, and [your own specific needs here] – then it was great to have around. For the rest of us, read on…

The FreePBX development team, in conjunction with Schmooze Com are proud to announce the all-new Directory Module. We have aimed to fix just about every thing that was wrong with the old directory – and then some. Some of the features that we are really excited about include :
[list] [*]Add/Remove just about anything anyone/thing that you can spell
[*]Include users from other systems (by setting a custom user)
[*]Multiple directories
[*]Multiple entries (for different spelling/tags)
[*]Include all users or just some
[/list] There are other features as well, but we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise! Nevertheless, here is a screen shot of the new Directory (spoiler alert 😉 ):


If your running the 2.8 beta (in a beta environment of course), you can install this Directory module from the Module Admin. If you aren’t actively testing the 2.8 beta, what are you waiting for? Install it now and start checking out all the 2.8 goodness, including [url=/news/2010-03-20/sneak-preview-of-2-8]new tooltips, reworked outbound routing,[/url] and a really cool new feature that I will leave to you to find (hint). Oh, and don’t forget to look back here next week for the answer.

Of course, should your extensive test show any abnormalities in the Directory module feel free to file a [url=]bug[/url].

One more thing. Some of you have been running the Custom Context module for a while. Save for some quirks, the module has been pretty stable. Until today. With the advent of FreePBX 2.8, Custom Context is pretty much End of Life.

But … it doesn’t have to be. A [url=/node/10354]group of concerned community members[/url] have set out to bring the Custom Context module up to date so that you can continue with your context quirkiness. [b]They need your help[/b]. Please take a moment [url=/news/2010-04-26/v3-2-8-and-custom-contexts]to read the details[/url] and help out in every way you can. Because Open Source is really for You.

p.s. Just a quick heads up: Some of you may have known me by my forum handle lazytt. As of today, I’ll be mbrevda in both the forums and on irc.

[b]Moshe Brevda[/b] – on behalf of the FreePBX Team!