Interceptors for PHP's native phar:// stream handling

v3.1.7 2021-09-20 19:19 UTC


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PHP Phar Stream Wrapper

Abstract & History

Based on Sam Thomas' findings concerning insecure deserialization in combination with obfuscation strategies allowing to hide Phar files inside valid image resources, the TYPO3 project decided back then to introduce a PharStreamWrapper to intercept invocations of the phar:// stream in PHP and only allow usage for defined locations in the file system.

Since the TYPO3 mission statement is inspiring people to share, we thought it would be helpful for others to release our PharStreamWrapper as standalone package to the PHP community.

The mentioned security issue was reported to TYPO3 on 10th June 2018 by Sam Thomas and has been addressed concerning the specific attack vector and for this generic PharStreamWrapper in TYPO3 versions 7.6.30 LTS, 8.7.17 LTS and 9.3.1 on 12th July 2018.


In general the TYPO3 core is released under the GNU General Public License version 2 or any later version (GPL-2.0-or-later). In order to avoid licensing issues and incompatibilities this PharStreamWrapper is licenced under the MIT License. In case you duplicate or modify source code, credits are not required but really appreciated.


Thanks to Alex Pott, Drupal for creating back-ports of all sources in order to provide compatibility with PHP v5.3.


The PharStreamWrapper is provided as composer package typo3/phar-stream-wrapper and has minimum requirements of PHP v5.3 (v2 branch) and PHP v7.0 (master branch).

Installation for PHP v7.0

composer require typo3/phar-stream-wrapper ^3.0

Installation for PHP v5.3

composer require typo3/phar-stream-wrapper ^2.0


The following example is bundled within this package, the shown PharExtensionInterceptor denies all stream wrapper invocations files not having the .phar suffix. Interceptor logic has to be individual and adjusted to according requirements.

    (new \TYPO3\PharStreamWrapper\Behavior())
        ->withAssertion(new \TYPO3\PharStreamWrapper\Interceptor\PharExtensionInterceptor())

if (in_array('phar', stream_get_wrappers())) {
    stream_wrapper_register('phar', \TYPO3\PharStreamWrapper\PharStreamWrapper::class);
  • PharStreamWrapper defined as class reference will be instantiated each time phar:// streams shall be processed.
  • Manager as singleton pattern being called by PharStreamWrapper instances in order to retrieve individual behavior and settings.
  • Behavior holds reference to interceptor(s) that shall assert correct/allowed invocation of a given $path for a given $command. Interceptors implement the interface Assertable. Interceptors can act individually on following commands or handle all of them in case not defined specifically:


The following interceptor is shipped with the package and ready to use in order to block any Phar invocation of files not having a .phar suffix. Besides that individual interceptors are possible of course.

class PharExtensionInterceptor implements Assertable
     * Determines whether the base file name has a ".phar" suffix.
     * @param string $path
     * @param string $command
     * @return bool
     * @throws Exception
    public function assert(string $path, string $command): bool
        if ($this->baseFileContainsPharExtension($path)) {
            return true;
        throw new Exception(
                'Unexpected file extension in "%s"',

     * @param string $path
     * @return bool
    private function baseFileContainsPharExtension(string $path): bool
        $baseFile = Helper::determineBaseFile($path);
        if ($baseFile === null) {
            return false;
        $fileExtension = pathinfo($baseFile, PATHINFO_EXTENSION);
        return strtolower($fileExtension) === 'phar';


This interceptor combines multiple interceptors implementing Assertable. It succeeds when all nested interceptors succeed as well (logical AND).

    (new \TYPO3\PharStreamWrapper\Behavior())
        ->withAssertion(new ConjunctionInterceptor([
            new PharExtensionInterceptor(),
            new PharMetaDataInterceptor(),


This (basic) interceptor just checks whether the invoked Phar archive has an according .phar file extension. Resolving symbolic links as well as Phar internal alias resolving are considered as well.

    (new \TYPO3\PharStreamWrapper\Behavior())
        ->withAssertion(new PharExtensionInterceptor())


This interceptor is actually checking serialized Phar meta-data against PHP objects and would consider a Phar archive malicious in case not only scalar values are found. A custom low-level Phar\Reader is used in order to avoid using PHP's Phar object which would trigger the initial vulnerability.

    (new \TYPO3\PharStreamWrapper\Behavior())
        ->withAssertion(new PharMetaDataInterceptor())


  • Phar\Reader::__construct(string $fileName): Creates low-level reader for Phar archive
  • Phar\Reader::resolveContainer(): Phar\Container: Resolves model representing Phar archive
  • Phar\Container::getStub(): Phar\Stub: Resolves (plain PHP) stub section of Phar archive
  • Phar\Container::getManifest(): Phar\Manifest: Resolves parsed Phar archive manifest as documented at http://php.net/manual/en/phar.fileformat.manifestfile.php
  • Phar\Stub::getMappedAlias(): string: Resolves internal Phar archive alias defined in stub using Phar::mapPhar('alias.phar') - actually the plain PHP source is analyzed here
  • Phar\Manifest::getAlias(): string - Resolves internal Phar archive alias defined in manifest using Phar::setAlias('alias.phar')
  • Phar\Manifest::getMetaData(): string: Resolves serialized Phar archive meta-data
  • Phar\Manifest::deserializeMetaData(): mixed: Resolves deserialized Phar archive meta-data containing only scalar values - in case an object is determined, an according Phar\DeserializationException will be thrown
$reader = new Phar\Reader('example.phar');


  • Helper::determineBaseFile(string $path): string: Determines base file that can be accessed using the regular file system. For instance the following path phar:///home/user/bundle.phar/content.txt would be resolved to /home/user/bundle.phar.
  • Helper::resetOpCache(): Resets PHP's OPcache if enabled as work-around for issues in include() or require() calls and OPcache delivering wrong results. More details can be found in PHP's bug tracker, for instance like https://bugs.php.net/bug.php?id=66569

Security Contact

In case of finding additional security issues in the TYPO3 project or in this PharStreamWrapper package in particular, please get in touch with the TYPO3 Security Team.