VSV00011 Varnish HTTP/2 Request Forgery Vulnerability


Date: 2022-11-08

A request forgery attack can be performed on Varnish Cache servers that have the HTTP/2 protocol turned on. An attacker may introduce characters through the HTTP/2 pseudo-headers that are invalid in the context of an HTTP/1 request line, causing the Varnish server to produce invalid HTTP/1 requests to the backend. This may in turn be used to successfully exploit vulnerabilities in a server behind the Varnish server.

Versions affected

  • Varnish Cache releases 5.x, 6.x, 7.0.x, 7.1.0, 7.1.1, 7.2.0.

  • Varnish Cache 6.0 LTS series up to and including 6.0.10.

  • Varnish Cache Plus by Varnish Software 6.0.x up to and including 6.0.10r2.

Versions not affected

  • Varnish Cache 7.1.2 (released 2022-11-08)

  • Varnish Cache 7.2.1 (released 2022-11-08)

  • Varnish Cache 6.0 LTS version 6.0.11 (released 2022-11-08)

  • GitHub Varnish Cache master branch at commit 687ffb6452ba570778a83b6eb1df8ac1b31d9221

  • Varnish Cache Plus by Varnish Software version 6.0.10r3.


If upgrading Varnish is not possible, it is possible to mitigate the problem by adding the following snippet at the beginning of the vcl_recv VCL function:

sub vcl_recv {
      if (req.url ~ "(^$)|[ \t]+" || req.method ~ "(^$)|[ \t]+") {
              return (synth(400));

This VCL statement would test if the VCL variables filled in from incoming HTTP/2 pseudo-headers contains any of the problematic characters, and answer with a 400 “Bad request” synthetic response if found.


This problem was discovered and reported to us by Martin van Kervel Smedshammer, Graduate Student at the University of Oslo. We wish to thank him for the responsible disclosure.