Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-85: AJAX Fingerprinting (Version 2.4)  

CAPEC-85: AJAX Fingerprinting

AJAX Fingerprinting
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 85
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
+ Description


This attack utilizes the frequent client-server roundtrips in Ajax conversation to scan a system. While Ajax does not open up new vulnerabilities per se, it does optimize them from an attacker point of view. In many XSS attacks the attacker must get a "hole in one" and successfully exploit the vulnerability on the victim side the first time, once the client is redirected the attacker has many chances to engage in follow on probes, but there is only one first chance. In a widely used web application this is not a major problem because 1 in a 1,000 is good enough in a widely used application.

A common first step for an attacker is to footprint the environment to understand what attacks will work. Since footprinting relies on enumeration, the conversational pattern of rapid, multiple requests and responses that are typical in Ajax applications enable an attacker to look for many vulnerabilities, well-known ports, network locations and so on.

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The user must allow JavaScript to execute in their browser

+ Typical Severity

Very High

+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: High

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


Footprinting can be executed over almost any protocol including HTTP, TCP, UDP, and ICMP, with the general goal of gaining further information about a host environment to launch further attacks. By appending a malicious script to an otherwise normal looking URL, the attacker can probe the system for banners, vulnerabilities, filenames, available services, and in short anything the host process has access to. The results of the probe are either used to execute additional javascript (for example, if the attackers' footprint script identifies a vulnerability in a firewall permission, then the client side script executes a javascript to change client firewall settings, or an attacker may simply echo the results of the scan back out to a remote host for targeting future attacks).

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Medium

To land and launch a script on victim's machine with appropriate footprinting logic for enumerating services and vulnerabilities in JavaScript

+ Solutions and Mitigations

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

Design: Utilize strict type, character, and encoding enforcement

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

Implementation: Perform input validation for all remote content.

Implementation: Perform output validation for all remote content.

Implementation: Disable scripting languages such as JavaScript in browser

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.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Read application data
+ Injection Vector

Payload delivered through standard communication protocols, such as Ajax application.

+ Payload

Command(s) executed directly on host

+ Activation Zone

Client machine and client network

+ Payload Activation Impact


Enables attacker to execute probes against client system.

+ Purposes
  • Reconnaissance
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: LowAvailability Impact: Low
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ References
[R.85.1] Shreeraj Shah. "Ajax fingerprinting for Web 2.0 Applications". Help Net Security. <http://www.net-security.org/dl/articles/Ajax_fingerprinting.pdf>.
+ Content History
Gunnar Peterson2007-02-28
Sean BarnumCigital, Inc2007-03-07Review and revise
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-02-06Updated Attack_Prerequisites, Attacker_Skills_or_Knowledge_Required, Description Summary, Examples-Instances, Solutions_and_MitigationsInternal
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-04-10Updated Related_Attack_PatternsInternal
Previous Entry Names
DatePrevious Entry Name
2014-04-10Client Network Footprinting (using AJAX/XSS)

Page Last Updated: April 10, 2014