Posts Tagged ‘websites’

Bots Searching for Keys & Config Files [Sans StormCast]

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

If you don’t know our “404” project[1], I would definitively recommend having a look at it! The idea is to track HTTP 404 errors returned by your web servers. I like to compare the value of 404 errors found in web sites log files to “dropped” events in firewall logs. They can have a huge value to detect ongoing attacks or attackers performing some reconnaissance. Reviewing 404 errors is one task from my daily hunting-todo-list but it may quickly become unmanageable if you have a lot of websites or popular ones. The idea is to focus on “rare” events that could usually pass below the radar. Here is a Splunk query that I’m using in a daily report:

index=web sourcetype=access_combined status=404
| rex field=uri "(?<new_uri>^\/{1}[a-zA-Z0-9_\-\~]+\.\w+$)"
| cluster showcount=true t=0.6 field=new_uri
| table _time, cluster_count, cluster_label, new_uri | sort cluster_count

What does it do?

  • It searches for 404 errors in all the indexed Apache logs (access_combined)
  • It extracts interesting URI’s. I’m only interested in files from the root directory eg. “GET /<name><dot><extension>”
  • It creates “clusters” of common events to help in detecting rare ones.

Here is an example of output (top-20):


Many tested files are basically backup files like I already mentioned in a previous diary[2], nothing changed. But yesterday, I found a bot searching for even more interesting files: configuration files from popular tools and website private keys. Indeed, file transfer tools are used by many webmasters to deploy files on web servers and they could theoretically leave juicy data amongst the HTML files. Here is a short list of what I detected:


Each file was searched with a different combination of lower/upper case characters. Note the presence of ‘rules.abe’ that is used by webmasters to specify specific rules for some web applications[3]. This file could contain references to hidden applications (This is interesting to know for an attacker).

So, keep an eye on your 404 errors and happy hunting!


Xavier Mertens (@xme)
ISC Handler – Freelance Security Consultant

What is Freak? Security bug affects hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPad and Android users

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Researchers have uncovered the latest vulnerability in the way our data is protected online, with the Freak bug potentially putting hundreds of millions of smartphone and tablet users at risk.

The bug, which affects HTTPS encrypted communication online, has been around for decades, but was only uncovered on 3 March, 2015. If exploited the bug could give hackers access to your personal data including login details and evening banking information.

Here, we break down just what Freak is, how it works, and who is vulnerable:

What is Freak?

Freak is the latest security flaw to be discovered in the cryptographic protocols which are used to encrypt your online communications – known as SSL and TLS.

The vulnerability is in particular found in OpenSSL, the same protocol which was at the centre of the Heartbleed controversy last year.

Who discovered it?

The vulnerability, which has been around since the 1990s, was only discovered on Tuesday, 3 March by researchers at the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, Microsoft Research and IMDEA.

Why has Freak been around for so long?

The problem dates back to the early 1990s when the US government decided that it wanted to weaken the encryption standards on products being shipped overseas by US companies.

It required the companies to downgrade the encryption being used from strong RSA grade encryption to “export-grade” encryption. At the time this “export-grade” encryption was still relatively strong, requiring a supercomputer to be able to crack the 512-bit encryption key, meaning only the US government were likely to be able to exploit the vulnerability.

However with the rapid advance in computing, this is no longer the case, and with access to huge computing power through the likes of Amazon’s cloud computing service AWS, anyone could potentially exploit the Freak bug.

As renowned cryptographer Matthew Green says:

The export-grade RSA ciphers are the remains of a 1980s-vintage effort to weaken cryptography so that intelligence agencies would be able to monitor. This was done badly. So badly, that while the policies were ultimately scrapped, they’re still hurting us today. Encryption backdoors will always turn around and bite you in the ass. They are never worth it.

Who is vulnerable to a Freak attack?

iPhone 6 Review
The Safari browser on Apple’s iPhones and iPads is vulnerable to attack(IBTimes UK)

According to the researchers on the user side, Apple’s Safari web browser on its iPhone, iPad and Mac devices is vulnerable as well as almost all versions of Android as Google uses the OpenSSL protocol in its mobile operating system. That means that potentially hundreds of millions of people are at risk.

The Chrome desktop browser, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Mozilla’s Firefox are not vulnerable.

On the server side, according to researchers, just shy of 10% of the internet’s top million websites are vulnerable. This is down from 12.2% on Tuesday, meaning that website administrators seem to be fixing the problem.

There are however still many major websites including banking, media and government sites which are affected. These include the websites of American Express, Business Insider, Bloomberg, the Marriot hotel group and indeed IBTimes UK.

The list previously included the FBI’s website for anonymous informants, but this is no longer vulnerable it would seem. However the website remains vulnerable.

The full list can be found here.


via What is Freak? Security bug affects hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPad and Android users.

Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer | WIRED

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

big brother

Security experts call it a “drive-by download”: a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website and then subverts it to deliver malware to every single visitor. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the black hat arsenal, capable of delivering thousands of fresh victims into a hackers’ clutches within minutes.

Now the technique is being adopted by a different kind of a hacker—the kind with a badge. For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement’s knottiest Internet problems: how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system.

The approach has borne fruit—over a dozen alleged users of Tor-based child porn sites are now headed for trial as a result. But it’s also engendering controversy, with charges that the Justice Department has glossed over the bulk-hacking technique when describing it to judges, while concealing its use from defendants. Critics also worry about mission creep, the weakening of a technology relied on by human rights workers and activists, and the potential for innocent parties to wind up infected with government malware because they visited the wrong website. “This is such a big leap, there should have been congressional hearings about this,” says ACLU technologist Chris Soghoian, an expert on law enforcement’s use of hacking tools. “If Congress decides this is a technique that’s perfectly appropriate, maybe that’s OK. But let’s have an informed debate about it.”

The FBI’s use of malware is not new. The bureau calls the method an NIT, for “network investigative technique,” and the FBI has been using it since at least 2002 in cases ranging from computer hacking to bomb threats, child porn to extortion. Depending on the deployment, an NIT can be a bulky full-featured backdoor program that gives the government access to your files, location, web history and webcam for a month at a time, or a slim, fleeting wisp of code that sends the FBI your computer’s name and address, and then evaporates.

via Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer | Threat Level | WIRED.