Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-32: Embedding Scripts in HTTP Query Strings (Version 2.6)  

CAPEC-32: Embedding Scripts in HTTP Query Strings

 
Embedding Scripts in HTTP Query Strings
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 32
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

A variant of cross-site scripting called "reflected" cross-site scripting, the HTTP Query Strings attack consists of passing a malicious script inside an otherwise valid HTTP request query string. This is of significant concern for sites that rely on dynamic, user-generated content such as bulletin boards, news sites, blogs, and web enabled administration GUIs. The malicious script may steal session data, browse history, probe files, or otherwise execute attacks on the client side. Once the attacker has prepared the malicious HTTP query it is sent to a victim user (perhaps by email, IM, or posted on an online forum), who clicks on a normal looking link that contains a poison query string. This technique can be made more effective through the use of services like http://tinyurl.com/, which makes very small URLs that will redirect to very large, complex ones. The victim will not know what he is really clicking on.

+ Attack Execution Flow
Explore
  1. Spider:

    Using a browser or an automated tool, an attacker follows all public links on a web site. He records all the links he finds.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments
    1

    Use a spidering tool to follow and record all links. Make special note of any links that include parameters in the URL.

    env-Web
    2

    Use a proxy tool to record all links visited during a manual traversal of the web application. Make special note of any links that include parameters in the URL. Manual traversal of this type is frequently necessary to identify forms that are GET method forms rather than POST forms.

    env-Web
    3

    Use a browser to manually explore the website and analyze how it is constructed. Many browser's plugins are available to facilitate the analysis or automate the URL discovery.

    env-Web

    Indicators

    IDTypeIndicator DescriptionEnvironments
    1Positive

    URL parameters are used by the application or the browser (DOM)

    env-Web
    2Inconclusive

    Using URL rewriting, parameters may be part of the URL path.

    env-Web
    3Inconclusive

    No parameters appear on the URL. Even though none appear, the web application may still use them if they are provided.

    env-Web
    4Inconclusive

    Application could use POST variable as GET inside the application. Therefore, looking for POST parameters and adding them to the query string.

    env-Web
    5Negative

    Applications that have only static pages or that simply present information without accepting input are unlikely to be susceptible.

    env-Web

    Outcomes

    IDTypeOutcome Description
    1Success
    A list of URLs, with their corresponding parameters is created by the attacker.

    Security Controls

    IDTypeSecurity Control Description
    1Detective
    Monitor velocity of page fetching in web logs. Humans who view a page and select a link from it will click far slower and far less regularly than tools. Tools make requests very quickly and the requests are typically spaced apart regularly (e.g. 0.8 seconds between them).
    2Detective
    Create links on some pages that are visually hidden from web browsers. Using iframes, images, or other HTML techniques, the links can be hidden from web browsing humans, but visible to spiders and programs. A request for the page, then, becomes a good predictor of an automated tool probing the application.
    3Preventative
    Use CAPTCHA to prevent the use of the application by an automated tool.
    4Preventative
    Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be automated.
Experiment
  1. Attempt variations on input parameters:

    Possibly using an automated tool, an attacker requests variations on the URLs he spidered before. He sends parameters that include variations of payloads. He records all the responses from the server that include unmodified versions of his script.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments
    1

    Use a list of XSS probe strings to inject in parameters of known URLs. If possible, the probe strings contain a unique identifier.

    env-Web
    2

    Use a proxy tool to record results of manual input of XSS probes in known URLs.

    env-Web

    Indicators

    IDTypeIndicator DescriptionEnvironments
    1Positive

    The output of pages includes some form of a URL parameter. E.g., ?error="File not Found" becomes "File not Found" in the title of the web page.

    env-Web
    2Positive

    Input parameters become part of JavaScript, VBScript, or other script in a web page.

    env-Web
    3Inconclusive

    Nothing is returned to the web page. It may be a stored XSS. The unique identifier from the probe helps to trace the flow of the possible XSS.

    env-Web

    Outcomes

    IDTypeOutcome Description
    1Success
    The attacker's cross-site scripting string is repeated back verbatim at some point in the web site (if not on the same page). Note that sometimes, the payload might be well encoded in the page, but wouldn't be encoded at all in some other section of the same web page (title, script, etc.)
    2Failure
    All HTML-sensitive characters are consistently re-encoded before being sent to the web browser.
    3Inconclusive
    Some sensitive characters are consistently encoded, but others are not.

    Security Controls

    IDTypeSecurity Control Description
    1Detective
    Monitor input to web servers, application servers, and other HTTP infrastructure (e.g., load balancers). Alert on standard XSS probes. The majority of attackers use well-known strings to check for vulnerabilities. Use the same vulnerability catalogs that adversaries use.
    2Preventative
    Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax
    3Preventative
    Do not embed user-controllable input generated HTTP headers
    4Preventative
    Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.
Exploit
  1. Steal session IDs, credentials, page content, etc.:

    As the attacker succeeds in exploiting the vulnerability, he can choose to steal user's credentials in order to reuse or to analyze them later on.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments
    1

    Develop malicious JavaScript that is injected through vectors identified during the Experiment Phase and loaded by the victim's browser and sends document information to the attacker.

    env-Web
    2

    Develop malicious JavaScript that injected through vectors identified during the Experiment Phase and takes commands from an attacker's server and then causes the browser to execute appropriately.

    env-Web

    Outcomes

    IDTypeOutcome Description
    1Success
    The attacker gets the user's cookies or other session identifiers.
    2Success
    The attacker gets the content of the page the user is viewing.
    3Success
    The attacker causes the user's browser to visit a page with malicious content.

    Security Controls

    IDTypeSecurity Control Description
    1Detective
    Monitor server logs for scripting parameters.
    2Detective
    Monitor server logs for referrers. If users are being tricked into clicking XSS links through forums or other web postings, their web browsers will be providing Referrer headers most of the time. These can help indicate that the actual request is illegitimate.
    3Preventative
    Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax
    4Preventative
    Appropriately encode all browser output to avoid scripting syntax
    5Preventative
    Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.
  2. Forceful browsing:

    When the attacker targets the current application or another one (through CSRF vulnerabilities), the user will then be the one who perform the attacks without being aware of it. These attacks are mostly targeting application logic flaws, but it can also be used to create a widespread attack against a particular website on the user's current network (Internet or not).

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments
    1

    Develop malicious JavaScript that is injected through vectors identified during the Experiment Phase and loaded by the victim's browser and performs actions on the same web site

    env-Web
    2

    Develop malicious JavaScript that injected through vectors identified during the Experiment Phase and takes commands from an attacker's server and then causes the browser to execute request to other web sites (especially the web applications that have CSRF vulnerabilities).

    env-Web

    Outcomes

    IDTypeOutcome Description
    1Success
    The attacker indirectly controls the user's browser and makes it performing actions exploiting CSRF.
    2Success
    The attacker manipulates the browser through the steps that he designed in his attack. The user, identified on a website, is now performing actions he is not aware of.

    Security Controls

    IDTypeSecurity Control Description
    1Detective
    Monitor server logs for scripting parameters.
    2Detective
    Monitor server logs for referrers. If users are being tricked into clicking XSS links through forums or other web postings, their web browsers will be providing Referrer headers most of the time. These can help indicate that the actual request is illegitimate.
    3Preventative
    Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax
    4Preventative
    Appropriately encode all browser output to avoid scripting syntax
    5Preventative
    Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.
  3. Content spoofing:

    By manipulating the content, the attacker targets the information that the user would like to get from the website.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments
    1

    Develop malicious JavaScript that is injected through vectors identified during the Experiment Phase and loaded by the victim's browser and exposes attacker-modified invalid information to the user on the current web page.

    env-Web

    Outcomes

    IDTypeOutcome Description
    1Success
    The user sees a page containing wrong information

    Security Controls

    IDTypeSecurity Control Description
    1Detective
    Monitor server logs for scripting parameters.
    1Detective
    Monitor server logs for referrers. If users are being tricked into clicking XSS links through forums or other web postings, their web browsers will be providing Referrer headers most of the time. These can help indicate that the actual request is illegitimate.
    2Preventative
    Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax
    3Preventative
    Appropriately encode all browser output to avoid scripting syntax
    4Preventative
    Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.
+ Attack Prerequisites
  • Target client software must allow scripting such as JavaScript. Server software must allow display of remote generated HTML without sufficient input or output validation.

+ Typical Severity

High

+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: High

+ Methods of Attack
  • Injection
  • Protocol Manipulation
+ Examples-Instances

Description

http://user:host@example.com:8080/oradb<script>alert('Hi')</script>

Description

Web applications that accept name value pairs in a HTTP Query string are inherently at risk to any value (or name for that matter) that an attacker would like to enter in the query string. This can be done manually via web browser or trivially scripted to post the query string to multiple sites. In the latter case, in the instance of many sites using similar infrastructure with predictable http queries being accepted and operated on (such as blogging software, Google applications, and so on), a single malicious payload can be scripted to target a wide variety of sites.

Web 2.0 type sites like Technorati and del.icio.us rely on user generated content like tags to build http links that are displayed to other users. del.icio.us allows users to identify sites, tag them with metadata and provide URL, descriptions and more data. This data is then echoed back to any other web browser that is interested in the link. If the data is not validated by the del.icio.us site properly then an arbitrary code can be added into the standard http string sent to del.icio.us by the attacker, for example formatted as normal content with a URL and description and tagged as Java, and available to be clicked on (and executed by) any user browsing for Java content that clicks on this trojaned content.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Low

To place malicious payload on server via HTTP

Skill or Knowledge Level: High

Exploiting any information gathered by HTTP Query on script host

+ Resources Required

Ability to send HTTP post to scripting host and collect output

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Design: Use browser technologies that do not allow client side scripting.

Design: Utilize strict type, character, and encoding enforcement

Design: Server side developers should not proxy content via XHR or other means, if a http proxy for remote content is setup on the server side, the client's browser has no way of discerning where the data is originating from.

Implementation: Ensure all content that is delivered to client is sanitized against an acceptable content specification.

Implementation: Perform input validation for all remote content, including remote and user-generated content

Implementation: Perform output validation for all remote content.

Implementation: Disable scripting languages such as JavaScript in browser

Implementation: Session tokens for specific host

Implementation: Patching software. There are many attack vectors for XSS on the client side and the server side. Many vulnerabilities are fixed in service packs for browser, web servers, and plug in technologies, staying current on patch release that deal with XSS countermeasures mitigates this.

Implementation: Privileges are constrained, if a script is loaded, ensure system runs in chroot jail or other limited authority mode

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Confidentiality
Read application data
Confidentiality
Integrity
Availability
Execute unauthorized code or commands
Run Arbitrary Code
+ Injection Vector

Script delivered through standard web server, such as a web server with user-generated content.

+ Payload

HTTP Request Query String

+ Activation Zone

Client web browser where script is executed

+ Payload Activation Impact

Client web browser may be used to steal session data, passwords, cookies, and other tokens.

+ Purposes
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: HighAvailability Impact: Low
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
Client-Server
n-Tier
Frameworks
All
Platforms
All
Languages
All
+ References
[R.32.1] [REF-2] G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. February 2004.
+ Content History
Submissions
SubmitterOrganizationDateSource
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team

More information is available — Please select a different filter.
Page Last Updated: December 04, 2014