Saturday, October 21, 2006

XSS Fragmentation Attacks + MySpace 0day

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Fragmentation Is Not Just For The Network
XSS Fragmentation Attacks
Written 18/10/06
by kuza55
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Contents:

1.0 Introduction to Fragmentation Attacks
2.0 XSS Fragmentation Attacks
3.0 MySpace 0day!
4.0 Mitigation
5.0 Final Notes

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1.0 Introduction to Fragmentation Attacks
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At the simplest level, fragmentation attacks are possible when several fragments, which are by themselves not a security risk and can therefore be allowed to pass through a filter or firewall, but when the fragments reach their destination the fragments are combined and produce something dangerous.

Fragmentation attacks are usually seen in relation to the network/session layer where firewalls and IDSs try to filter packets on how dangerous they are deemed to be, they are also used to sometimes fool those same devices which try to rearrange the packets themselves and read the streams, but that is not what this article is about, this article is specifically about attacks where the whole document is not reassembled and checked.

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2.0 XSS Fragmentation Attacks
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XSS Fragmentation attacks are generally quite rare because they require either multiple sets of input being displayed on the same page which have all gone through the same (or at least a similar) XSS filter and are not tidied up.

Another requirement that must be placed on the XSS filter is that it must be completely dumb in the sense that it simply strips away < and > characters, or it is stateful, and allows certain strings in places where it would not allow them, e.g. <body onload="alert('XSS');"> would not be allowed, but onload="alert('XSS');" would be.

The idea behind XSS fragmentation attacks is to have your normally non-dangerous code (e.g. onload="alert('XSS');") placed in a dangerous position.

The simplest place to get your code placed is inside another tag and that is the example I'll go with now.

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3.0 MySpace 0day!
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The example I'll be using is a MySpace 0day I discovered. First of all I’ll give a quick explanation of the system MySpace has. You are not just given a single field to enter your profile into, you are given several fields about yourself, who you'd like to meet, your interests, etc.

Anyway, the sections we will be attacking are the most closely placed sections on the page, the interests sections (more specifically the Music and Film ones), normally your resulting code looks like this:
<tr id=MusicRow><td valign="top" align="left" width="100" bgcolor="#b1d0f0"><span class="lightbluetext8">Music</span></td><td id="ProfileMusic" width="175" bgcolor="#d5e8fb" style="WORD-WRAP: break-word">Music Goes Here!</td></tr><script language="JavaScript">highlightInterests("ProfileMusic");</script><tr id=FilmsRow><td valign="top" align="left" width="100" bgcolor="#b1d0f0"><span class="lightbluetext8">Films</span></td><td id="ProfileFilms" width="175" bgcolor="#d5e8fb" style="WORD-WRAP: break-word">Films Go Here!</td></tr>

The only things separating our 2 fields was this small block of code:
</span></td><td id="ProfileMusic" width="175" bgcolor="#d5e8fb" style="WORD-WRAP: break-word">Music Goes Here!</td></tr><script language="JavaScript">highlightInterests("ProfileMusic");</script><tr id=FilmsRow><td valign="top" align="left" width="100" bgcolor="#b1d0f0"><span class="lightbluetext8">Films</span></td><td id="ProfileFilms" width="175" bgcolor="#d5e8fb" style="WORD-WRAP: break-word">

Now what interesting things can we see about that code, well we can see that there are no single quotes there at all, and the only quotes used are double quotes.

So of course we can do something to encapsulate the text in between like so:
<tr id=MusicRow><td valign="top" align="left" width="100" bgcolor="#b1d0f0"><span class="lightbluetext8">Music</span></td><td id="ProfileMusic" width="175" bgcolor="#d5e8fb" style="WORD-WRAP: break-word"><body test='</td></tr><script language="JavaScript">highlightInterests("ProfileMusic");</script><tr id=FilmsRow><td valign="top" align="left" width="100" bgcolor="#b1d0f0"><span class="lightbluetext8">Films</span></td><td id="ProfileFilms" width="175" bgcolor="#d5e8fb" style="WORD-WRAP: break-word">'>Films Go Here!</td></tr>
and as you can see we have included all that text in between in the test parameter for the body tag we've introduced! And as you can also see we have the ability to write things into our tag in the second input field and it will be automatically place din a dangerous position! So if we make our Films field look like so:
' onLoad="alert('XSS');"></body>
then we have XSS.

This is exactly the attack used on MySpace, and should work on many other sites where input is not cleaned up and dangling tags are allowed to be posted.

Maybe on some sites which allow user comments on articles, etc are vulnerable?
(Note: Wordpress and Blogger aren't vulnerable, see Mitigation)

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4.0 Mitigation
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The root of this problem is that sections are filtered separately, but that problem is one that is probably too time-consuming to bother with as fixing another requirement needed for the attack to work is much easier to fix.

The easiest fix is to use something many filtering systems already do for other reasons: disallow incomplete/unclosed tags. At the moment I see no way of being able to exploit the above idea if the filtering engine does not allow either unfinished tags (like in the example above) or unclosed tags (e.g. <style> tags).


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5.0 Final Notes
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Well, what can I say, this is probably a corner case of XSS filter evasion, but it is a corner case that could possibly be applied to many situations since we seem to be able to post html comments in many places these days. I also hope it helps illustrate how security mechanisms such as XSS filters cannot be used as simple drop in modules, but have to be integrated into your design for them to work effectively.

Sadly/Luckily (depending on your viewpoint) manyfilters such as the ones employed by Wordpress and Blogger force you to have 'neat' HTML so this attack is impossible on those 2 cases.

6 comments:

Sebastian said...

Great article! Good explanation and good, creative thinking.

drew said...

Looks like it still works as of Oct 24, 2006:
http://www.myspace.com/drewtesturl

therealdonquixote said...

Sweet article. Expect a trackback soon.

Anonymous said...

I feel dumber after reading that. What in the world are you talking about? Who cares about MySpace? XSS fragmentation?

I read your entire article and the main concept was never described.

rtpHarry said...

Anonymous you are a spacker. The concept is that you can break protection filters by putting half your code in one box, and half in another. The last character in the first box is a ' and first character in the second box is a ' too which blocks out all the code in between, effectively rejoining your two halves of naughty code that you pasted in.

MySpace was only the example used, and seeing as its one of the most popular websites on the net at the moment, probably quite a few people care about it.

M189 said...

This is pretty interesting. im writing this as of late June so about 9th Months since this was first posted, and im not sure if it still works. im not a Hacker but i understand the concept of this and its quite interesting. Myspace is a good site to fool around with, using such things as tunneling and flying and such.