See also cautions.rst.

Known Issues

Below is a list of known issues in recent releases of Tahoe-LAFS, and how to manage them. The current version of this file can be found at .

If you’ve been using Tahoe-LAFS since v1.1 (released 2008-06-11) or if you’re just curious about what sort of mistakes we’ve made in the past, then you might want to read the “historical known issues” document in docs/historical/historical_known_issues.txt.

Known Issues in Tahoe-LAFS v1.10.3, released 30-Mar-2016

Unauthorized access by JavaScript in unrelated files

If you view a file stored in Tahoe-LAFS through a web user interface, JavaScript embedded in that file can, in some circumstances, access other files or directories stored in Tahoe-LAFS that you view through the same web user interface. Such a script would be able to send the contents of those other files or directories to the author of the script, and if you have the ability to modify the contents of those files or directories, then that script could modify or delete those files or directories.

This attack is known to be possible when an attacking tab or window could reach a tab or window containing a Tahoe URI by navigating back or forward in the history, either from itself or from any frame with a known name (as specified by the “target” attribute of an HTML link). It might be possible in other cases depending on the browser.

how to manage it

For future versions of Tahoe-LAFS, we are considering ways to close off this leakage of authority while preserving ease of use – the discussion of this issue is ticket #615.

For the present, either do not view files stored in Tahoe-LAFS through a web user interface, or turn off JavaScript in your web browser before doing so, or limit your viewing to files which you know don’t contain malicious JavaScript.

Command-line arguments are leaked to other local users

Remember that command-line arguments are visible to other users (through the ‘ps’ command, or the windows Process Explorer tool), so if you are using a Tahoe-LAFS node on a shared host, other users on that host will be able to see (and copy) any caps that you pass as command-line arguments. This includes directory caps that you set up with the “tahoe add-alias” command.

how to manage it

As of Tahoe-LAFS v1.3.0 there is a “tahoe create-alias” command that does the following technique for you.

Bypass add-alias and edit the NODEDIR/private/aliases file directly, by adding a line like this:

fun: URI:DIR2:ovjy4yhylqlfoqg2vcze36dhde:4d4f47qko2xm5g7osgo2yyidi5m4muyo2vjjy53q4vjju2u55mfa

By entering the dircap through the editor, the command-line arguments are bypassed, and other users will not be able to see them. Once you’ve added the alias, if you use that alias instead of a cap itself on the command-line, then no secrets are passed through the command line. Then other processes on the system can still see your filenames and other arguments you type there, but not the caps that Tahoe-LAFS uses to permit access to your files and directories.

Capabilities may be leaked to web browser phishing filter / “safe browsing” servers

Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome include a “phishing filter” or “safe browing” component, which is turned on by default, and which sends any URLs that it deems suspicious to a central server.

Microsoft gives a brief description of their filter’s operation. Firefox and Chrome both use Google’s “safe browsing API” (specification).

This of course has implications for the privacy of general web browsing (especially in the cases of Firefox and Chrome, which send your main personally identifying Google cookie along with these requests without your explicit consent, as described in Firefox bugzilla ticket #368255.

The reason for documenting this issue here, though, is that when using the Tahoe-LAFS web user interface, it could also affect confidentiality and integrity by leaking capabilities to the filter server.

Since IE’s filter sends URLs by SSL/TLS, the exposure of caps is limited to the filter server operators (or anyone able to hack the filter server) rather than to network eavesdroppers. The “safe browsing API” protocol used by Firefox and Chrome, on the other hand, is not encrypted, although the URL components are normally hashed.

Opera also has a similar facility that is disabled by default. A previous version of this file stated that Firefox had abandoned their phishing filter; this was incorrect.

how to manage it

If you use any phishing filter or “safe browsing” feature, consider either disabling it, or not using the WUI via that browser. Phishing filters have very limited effectiveness , and phishing or malware attackers have learnt how to bypass them.

To disable the filter in IE7 or IE8:

  • Click Internet Options from the Tools menu.

  • Click the Advanced tab.

  • If an “Enable SmartScreen Filter” option is present, uncheck it. If a “Use Phishing Filter” or “Phishing Filter” option is present, set it to Disable.

  • Confirm (click OK or Yes) out of all dialogs.

If you have a version of IE that splits the settings between security zones, do this for all zones.

To disable the filter in Firefox:

  • Click Options from the Tools menu.

  • Click the Security tab.

  • Uncheck both the “Block reported attack sites” and “Block reported web forgeries” options.

  • Click OK.

To disable the filter in Chrome:

  • Click Options from the Tools menu.

  • Click the “Under the Hood” tab and find the “Privacy” section.

  • Uncheck the “Enable phishing and malware protection” option.

  • Click Close.

Known issues in the SFTP frontend

These are documented in Tahoe-LAFS SFTP Frontend and on the SftpFrontend page on the wiki.

Traffic analysis based on sizes of files/directories, storage indices, and timing

Files and directories stored by Tahoe-LAFS are encrypted, but the ciphertext reveals the exact size of the original file or directory representation. This information is available to passive eavesdroppers and to server operators.

For example, a large data set with known file sizes could probably be identified with a high degree of confidence.

Uploads and downloads of the same file or directory can be linked by server operators, even without making assumptions based on file size. Anyone who knows the introducer furl for a grid may be able to act as a server operator. This implies that if such an attacker knows which file/directory is being accessed in a particular request (by some other form of surveillance, say), then they can identify later or earlier accesses of the same file/directory.

Observing requests during a directory traversal (such as a deep-check operation) could reveal information about the directory structure, i.e. which files and subdirectories are linked from a given directory.

Attackers can combine the above information with inferences based on timing correlations. For instance, two files that are accessed close together in time are likely to be related even if they are not linked in the directory structure. Also, users that access the same files may be related to each other.

Known Issues in Tahoe-LAFS v1.9.0, released 31-Oct-2011

Integrity Failure during Mutable Downloads

Under certain circumstances, the integrity-verification code of the mutable downloader could be bypassed. Clients who receive carefully crafted shares (from attackers) will emit incorrect file contents, and the usual share-corruption errors would not be raised. This only affects mutable files (not immutable), and only affects downloads that use doctored shares. It is not persistent: the threat is resolved once you upgrade your client to a version without the bug. However, read-modify-write operations (such as directory manipulations) performed by vulnerable clients could cause the attacker’s modifications to be written back out to the mutable file, making the corruption permanent.

The attacker’s ability to manipulate the file contents is limited. They can modify FEC-encoded ciphertext in all but one share. This gives them the ability to blindly flip bits in roughly 2/3rds of the file (for the default k=3 encoding parameter). Confidentiality remains intact, unless the attacker can deduce the file’s contents by observing your reactions to corrupted downloads.

This bug was introduced in 1.9.0, as part of the MDMF-capable downloader, and affects both SDMF and MDMF files. It was not present in 1.8.3.

how to manage it

There are three options:

  • Upgrade to 1.9.1, which fixes the bug

  • Downgrade to 1.8.3, which does not contain the bug

  • If using 1.9.0, do not trust the contents of mutable files (whether SDMF or MDMF) that the 1.9.0 client emits, and do not modify directories (which could write the corrupted data back into place, making the damage persistent)

Known Issues in Tahoe-LAFS v1.8.2, released 30-Jan-2011

Unauthorized deletion of an immutable file by its storage index

Due to a flaw in the Tahoe-LAFS storage server software in v1.3.0 through v1.8.2, a person who knows the “storage index” that identifies an immutable file can cause the server to delete its shares of that file.

If an attacker can cause enough shares to be deleted from enough storage servers, this deletes the file.

This vulnerability does not enable anyone to read file contents without authorization (confidentiality), nor to change the contents of a file (integrity).

A person could learn the storage index of a file in several ways:

  1. By being granted the authority to read the immutable file: i.e. by being granted a read capability to the file. They can determine the file’s storage index from its read capability.

  2. By being granted a verify capability to the file. They can determine the file’s storage index from its verify capability. This case probably doesn’t happen often because users typically don’t share verify caps.

  3. By operating a storage server, and receiving a request from a client that has a read cap or a verify cap. If the client attempts to upload, download, or verify the file with their storage server, even if it doesn’t actually have the file, then they can learn the storage index of the file.

  4. By gaining read access to an existing storage server’s local filesystem, and inspecting the directory structure that it stores its shares in. They can thus learn the storage indexes of all files that the server is holding at least one share of. Normally only the operator of an existing storage server would be able to inspect its local filesystem, so this requires either being such an operator of an existing storage server, or somehow gaining the ability to inspect the local filesystem of an existing storage server.

how to manage it

Tahoe-LAFS version v1.8.3 or newer (except v1.9a1) no longer has this flaw; if you upgrade a storage server to a fixed release then that server is no longer vulnerable to this problem.

Note that the issue is local to each storage server independently of other storage servers: when you upgrade a storage server then that particular storage server can no longer be tricked into deleting its shares of the target file.

If you can’t immediately upgrade your storage server to a version of Tahoe-LAFS that eliminates this vulnerability, then you could temporarily shut down your storage server. This would of course negatively impact availability – clients would not be able to upload or download shares to that particular storage server while it was shut down – but it would protect the shares already stored on that server from being deleted as long as the server is shut down.

If the servers that store shares of your file are running a version of Tahoe-LAFS with this vulnerability, then you should think about whether someone can learn the storage indexes of your files by one of the methods described above. A person can not exploit this vulnerability unless they have received a read cap or verify cap, or they control a storage server that has been queried about this file by a client that has a read cap or a verify cap.

Tahoe-LAFS does not currently have a mechanism to limit which storage servers can connect to your grid, but it does have a way to see which storage servers have been connected to the grid. The Introducer’s front page in the Web User Interface has a list of all storage servers that the Introducer has ever seen and the first time and the most recent time that it saw them. Each Tahoe-LAFS gateway maintains a similar list on its front page in its Web User Interface, showing all of the storage servers that it learned about from the Introducer, when it first connected to that storage server, and when it most recently connected to that storage server. These lists are stored in memory and are reset to empty when the process is restarted.

See ticket #1528 for technical details.