Posted on Jun 19, 2017 By copyninja under development

In my previous post I used Exec::shell function from subprocess crate and passed it string generated by interpolating --author argument. This string was then run by the shell via Exec::shell. After publishing post I got ping on IRC by Jonas Smedegaard and Paul Wise that I should replace Exec::shell, as it might be prone to errors or vulnerabilities of shell injection attack. Indeed they were right, in hurry I did not completely read the function documentation which clearly mentions this fact.

When invoking this function, be careful not to interpolate arguments into the string run by the shell, such as Exec::shell(format!("sort {}", filename)). Such code is prone to errors and, if filename comes from an untrusted source, to shell injection attacks. Instead, use Exec::cmd("sort").arg(filename).

Though I'm not directly taking input from untrusted source, its still possible that the string I got back from git log command might contain some oddly formatted string with characters of different encoding which could possibly break the Exec::shell , as I'm not sanitizing the shell command. When we use Exec::cmd and pass argument using .args chaining, the library takes care of creating safe command line. So I went in and modified the function to use Exec::cmd instead of Exec::shell.

Below is updated function.

fn copyright_fromgit(repo: &str) -> Result<Vec<String>> {
    let tempdir = TempDir::new_in(".", "debcargo")?;
     .args(&["clone", "--bare", repo, tempdir.path().to_str().unwrap()])

    let author_process = {
        Exec::shell(OsStr::new("git log --format=\"%an <%ae>\"")).cwd(tempdir.path()) |
        Exec::shell(OsStr::new("sort -u"))
    let authors = author_process.stdout_str().trim().to_string();
    let authors: Vec<&str> = authors.split('\n').collect();
    let mut notices: Vec<String> = Vec::new();
    for author in &authors {
        let author_string = format!("--author={}", author);
        let first = {
             .args(&["log", "--format=%ad",
             .cwd(tempdir.path()) | Exec::shell(OsStr::new("head -n1"))

        let latest = {
             .args(&["log", "--format=%ad", "--date=format:%Y", &author_string])
             .cwd(tempdir.path()) | Exec::shell("head -n1")

        let start = i32::from_str(first.stdout_str().trim())?;
        let end = i32::from_str(latest.stdout_str().trim())?;
        let cnotice = match start.cmp(&end) {
            Ordering::Equal => format!("{}, {}", start, author),
            _ => format!("{}-{}, {}", start, end, author),



I still use Exec::shell for generating author list, this is not problematic as I'm not interpolating arguments to create command string.