Web application vulnerabilities

Published: 2009-04-21
Last Updated: 2009-04-21 17:59:04 UTC
by Bojan Zdrnja (Version: 1)
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In last two weeks we have been all witnesses of couple of major attacks that exploited web application vulnerabilities. Probably the best example was the Twitter XSS worm, which exploited several (!) XSS vulnerabilities in various parts of Twitter's profile screen. Luckily, the XSS worm was more or less benign but the author could have done much worse things through it – remember that it had full access to the logged in user.

The second high profile attack happened yesterday to a New Zealand based domain registrar Domainz.net. While the details of this attack have not been confirmed, the media is speculating that an SQL injection was the root cause of this mass defacement. The attackers supposedly exploited this vulnerability to modify DNS records for some high profile web sites, such as Sony's or Microsoft's (in New Zealand).

These two attacks show that the overall security of web applications is still far away from what we would like it to be. I can confirm this from my own experience as almost every penetration test carried out on a web application resulted in at least one identified vulnerability in classes mentioned above.

Besides various testing tools, there are couple of attack tools that I've also seen being used in the wild: Sqlmap, which is an automatic SQL injection tools, similar to Absinthe, a very powerful tool that allows the attacker to even retrieve data from the database. Finally, we have to mention Sqlninja as well, a tool written especially for attacks on Microsoft SQL Server. All these are available for free on the Internet (should be first hit on your favorite search engine).

While these vulnerabilities can be severe, they are also relatively easy to fix so make sure that all your developers are aware of fantastic (and free) resources that the folks at OWASP (http://www.owasp.org/) have put up.

Finally – let us know what other tools you use in SQL injection testing/exploitation; if we get more interesting submissions I'll combine a list with such tools.


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