We see a lot of confusion regarding the X-XSS-Protection header and thought it might be worthwhile to go over exactly what this header is and what it isn’t.
X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
X-XSS-Protection: 1; report=http://example.com/your_report_URI
XSS Auditor isn’t a solution to XSS attacks. As Justin Schuh of Google mentions, “XSS auditor is a defense-in-depth mechanism to protect our users against some common XSS vulnerabilities in web sites. We know for a fact it can’t catch all possible XSS variants, and those it does catch still need to be fixed on the affected site. So, the auditor is really an additional safety-net for our users, but not intended as a strong security mechanism.” Because of this, XSS Auditor bypasses are rated as ‘SecSeverity-None’ and, if you we’re wondering, are not eligible for bug bounty payments.
XSS Auditor takes a black list approach to identify dangerous characters and tags supplied in request parameters. It also attempts to match query parameters with content to identify injection points. If the query parameter can’t be matched to content in the response, the auditor will not be triggered. Because the browser will never have insight to server-side code, an application that mangles an XSS payload will always render the XSS auditor useless in preventing attacks.
To take a quick look at the code behind Chrome’s XSS auditor, we can get an idea of the inner workings of the detection mechanisms:
Just by looking through the function names we can see that the auditor searches for script tags, valid HTML attributes, and other XSS injection vectors. Before rendering the response in the Document Object Model presented to the user, XSS auditor searches for instances of (malicious) parameters sent in the original request. If a detection is positive, the auditor is triggered and the response is “rewritten” to a non-executable state in the browser DOM. Chrome’s ‘view-source’ has a builtin component to highlight sections on code in red that caused the XSS auditor to fire.
A bypass of XSS auditor should not be considered a vulnerability. While the Chromium team does actively improve the auditor, there are likely to always be number of bypasses for the auditor. We will not go in depth about specific bypasses as they do change with time and are likely to be outdated fast. At the time of this writing two examples that are functional in the latest version of chrome can be found here and here.
Chances are you may have arrived here after a vulnerability scan returns a finding called “Terminal Services Doesn’t Use Network Level Authentication (NLA)”. The default configuration of Windows 7, 2008, and 2012 allows remote users to connect over the network and initiate a full RDP session without providing any credentials. This allows an untrusted user to land on the system login page as shown below:
Several risks are associated with this functionality; an attacker is now able to:
The default configuration of RDP is similar to letting anyone into the lobby of your building; while they may not have keys to apartments, we generally don’t want strangers milling around the lobby to gather information if it can be avoided.
To enable network level access on Windows 2008 R2 we can do the following:
Changes are immediate, no reboot is required. Network Level Access should now be enabled.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to verify if NLA is to use the ‘rdesktop’ tool packaged with Kali Linux. When NLA is properly enabled, you will get the following error:
root@kali:~# rdesktop 10.0.1.73 Autoselected keyboard map en-us ERROR: CredSSP: Initialize failed, do you have correct kerberos tgt initialized ? Failed to connect, CredSSP required by server.
For long term solutions to this issue, organizations may wish to make this change part of a hardened standard image used to provision new servers.
Web application security is a far more complex issue than many other areas of security. There is a high potential for applications to allow users to extract sensitive data, bypass authorization, and even execute commands on the system. But even applications that prevent these types of attacks are often found vulnerable to other “less direct” attacks. As we see time and time again, criminal hackers will go to extreme lengths of effort to profit in any way possible.
As many know, healthcare is an industry which has (understandably) lagged in security. It has had an extreme need for technology development, and has never been an attractive target like banks were to criminals. Unfortunately, the rising black market value of medical records is changing this, and with it bringing more sophisticated attacks. And to see what is coming, we don’t need to look far. We can take a lesson from the financial industry, which has been the target of cutting edge attacks for the last two decades.
As application security improves and attackers find themselves unable to gain direct access to systems, they will look to the next best thing: getting users to do the dirty work. These types of issues are heavily exploited in the financial world, an industry which has poured millions into ensuring applications are not susceptible to such attacks. These are most commonly known as a “confused deputy problem”, where a malicious actor persuades a victim into performing an action against their knowledge or will. Before we look at these attacks individually, it’s important to understand that all of these issues require several prerequisites in order to pose actual risk:
Chances are at some point you’ve seen a URL that looks like this:
It performs a specific sensitive function, and takes predictable parameters. While this probably doesn’t seem like a big problem to most people, an attacker may exploit this to force a user to delete records within an application.
Let’s take a detailed look at the steps:
You may be thinking “How is this a vulnerability? This is the way the web works” and you’re exactly right. For a long time this was just how applications were designed; and that was that. The ultimate weakness here is in the HTTP protocol itself, it was simply not designed for the fact that we would be using it for the most sensitive and life dependent operations that we do today. But in order to face reality, we must build applications that compensate for the weaknesses of all components, even the HTTP protocol itself.
It’s important to note that the risk of CSRF and Clickjacking can vary wildly, and there are several factors which may increase or decrease the risk:
The expanding health IT ecosystem drives all three of these factors higher in risk. As patient facing applications become more powerful, the more likely users will face these types of attacks. The good news is that both of these issues have well documented fixes which have been adopted into most development frameworks and web servers. Next week we will publish part 2 detailing mitigation strategies.
At some point while performing vulnerability assessments on android applications you will encounter apps that don’t want to be run within an emulator. We can’t blame application owners for wanting to ensure that the user interaction they see comes from genuine devices, but it doesn’t help us do any security testing on it.
There are several ways to detect an emulator; however this example is only relevant to the most common way we see. In this application, a check is performed for an IMEI value of ‘000000000000000’ which is the value used by the emulator that ships with the Android SDK.
The code segment below checks for this value and exits if true. While we could easily patch the value from within the application, it may be more efficient in the long run to simply change the IMEI value of our emulator. This way we don’t have to patch the next application that does this.
The IMEI is stored as a text string, so we will search for a ‘text string’ accordingly. Open the binary with hexeditor, hit ^W, and search for the fifteen zeroes. Note that the binary we wish to open is not the “emulator” binary, but the “emulator-arm” binary. If you are using a different architecture you may be using the mips or x86 binary.
cp emulator-arm emulator-arm.bak hexeditor emulator-arm ^W
Note once again this is an ascii string, so the zeroes are 0x30.
In this case, we just replace four characters with 1234 by updating 0x31, 0x32, 0x33, and 0x34. Do not change the length of data in this segment or overwrite bytes outside this segment or you will corrupt the binary.
Just save and exit. Now our emulator will be using our new custom value.
For the majority of PHP applications, htmlspecialchars() will be your best friend. htmlspecialchars() supplied with no arguments will convert special characters to HTML entities, below shows the conversions performed:
'&' (ampersand) becomes '&' '"' (double quote) becomes '"' '<' (less than) becomes '<' '>' (greater than) becomes '>'
Eagle eyed readers may notice this does not include single quotes. For this reason we recommend that htmlspecialchars() is always used with the ‘ENT_QUOTES’ to ensure single quotes will be encoded. Below shows the singe quote entity conversion:
"'" (single quote) becomes ''' (or ')
Another function exists which is almost identical to htmlspecialchars(). htmlenities() performs the same functional sanitization on dangerous characters, however, encodes all character entities when one is available. This may lead to excessive encoding and cause some content to display incorrectly if character sets change.
http://www.example.com/view.php?name=te"st [...] <script> var = "te\"st "; // addslashes() displayname(var); </script>
<script> var = "test1</script><script>alert(document.cookie);</script>"; displayname(var); </script>
We talked before about considerations for the location of data, and will go over some examples where entity encoding with htmlspecialchars() is not enough. One of the most common examples of this is when data is inserted within the actual tag or attribute of an element.
This is just one of many somewhat rare situations where extremely strict filtering is required. For an in depth look at many injection scenarios and their prevention methods, take a look at the OWASP XSS Prevention Cheat Sheet.
Virtue Security makes no recommendation or provides any warranty for third party products or software; however, we are aware that several third party PHP libraries are commonly used to assist in XSS prevention. Below are projects that may assist developers building suitable whitelists:
HTML Purifier – http://htmlpurifier.org/
PHP Anti-XSS – https://code.google.com/p/php-antixss/
htmLawed – http://www.bioinformatics.org/phplabware/internal_utilities/htmLawed/