Understanding CVE-2023-38546: A Spotlight on Cookie Insertion Flaw in libcurl

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, understanding the intricacies of vulnerabilities is pivotal for maintaining safe and secure systems. A recent vulnerability identified as CVE-2023-38546 sheds light on a particular flaw in libcurl, the widely used software library that supports transfers using various protocols. Although this vulnerability has been assigned a low severity score of 3.7, its implications can provide critical insights for developers and system administrators alike.

What is libcurl?

Libcurl is a robust, client-side transfer library that supports a multitude of protocols like HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and many more. It's an indispensable tool for applications that need to send or retrieve data over the internet or intranet without the overhead of managing these protocols' complex details. This ease of use has made libcurl a preferred choice for developers across various domains.

About the Vulnerability (CVE-2023-38546)

The recently discovered flaw revolves around the handling of cookies during a special operation in libcurl – specifically when an "easy handle" is duplicated via the curl_easy_duphandle function. An "easy handle" in libcurl parlance is a means to conduct single transfers. The underlying issue occurs if a transfer has cookies enabled; when duplicated, the state of cookie-enabling is cloned, but the actual cookies are not. This misstep leads to the cloned handle possibly using a non-existent file labeled ‘none’ to load cookies, provided such a file exists and is accessible in the application's directory.

Despite its low severity rating, the potential for unauthorized cookie insertion by an attacker under specific conditions poses a security risk. This could be exploited if the cloned handle is manipulated to load cookies from unintended sources, leading to information disclosure or other unforeseen consequences.

Implications and Mitigations

Developers using libcurl are advised to rigorously check handles when duplicating them, especially in environments where cookie management is crucial. By ensuring that the origin of cookies is correctly configured and not dependent on arbitrary files in the working directory, one can safeguard against exploitation of this vulnerability. Furthermore, keeping libcurl up to date with the latest patches and releases is vital for security and functionality.

Stay Ahead with Advanced Patch Management

While understanding vulnerabilities like CVE-2023-38546 is important, it is equally critical to ensure your systems are proactively protected against potential exploits. Securely managing patches and updates can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially on Linux servers where manual updates can introduce errors or inconsistencies.

This is where LinuxPatch, a specialized patch management platform, comes into play. LinuxPatch offers a streamlined and automated solution to manage patches efficiently, ensuring that your systems are always up-to-date with the latest security measures. Their platform simplifies the patching process, reducing downtime and protecting against vulnerabilities effectively.


While CVE-2023-38546 presents a nuanced security challenge, it also highlights the need for vigilant patch management and system monitoring. Understanding the context and technical details of such vulnerabilities allows developers and administrators to better prepare and protect their systems. With tools like LinuxPatch, securing your systems becomes more manageable and reliable, ensuring a higher standard of cybersecurity in our interconnected digital world.