Feeds

Researcher shows how to strike back at web assailants

Exploiting the exploiters

SANS - Survey on application security programs

A security researcher has disclosed details on more than a dozen previously unknown vulnerabilities that people responding to web-based attacks can exploit to strike back at online assailants.

The bugs reside in off-the-shelf crimeware kits that go by names such as Eleonore, Liberty, Neon, and Yes. Attackers install them on compromised websites to streamline the process of exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities on the PCs of people who visit them.

It has long been known that some of the exploit kits are themselves susceptible to attacks, and on Thursday Laurent Oudot, CEO of French security consultancy Tehtri-Security, detailed 13 bugs that can be exploited to turn the tables on the criminals running the software. They make it possible for law enforcement agents and other investigators of online attacks to destroy command and control servers, identify the miscreants, and in some cases even launch client-side attacks against the intruders.

“The offensive concepts that we've shown today were how to strike back at attackers who use evil web tools like Exploit Packs, Web backdoors, etc.,” Oudot told The Register in an online discussion a few hours after he made a presentation at the SyScan security conference in Singapore. “Basically, we explained that it is possible to create traps or to remotely attack the malicious web tools used by people controlling botnets.”

One of the attacks against Eleonore allows investigators to steal the authentication cookies of miscreants logging in to the administrative panel used to control an attack site. It starts with as SQL-injection exploit through a browser's referrer field to plant strings in the server's database that make the panel vulnerable to XSS, or cross-site scripting exploits. Investigators can then exploit that hole and steal the cookies, which are used to gain administrative access to the panel.

Oudot said his presentation included instructions on carrying out 13 separate exploits. He has not yet published the details but said he would probably do so eventually. A brief description of the talk is towards the bottom of this page, and additional details are here.

The presentation highlights the fine line between investigating and responding to online attacks on the one hand and running afoul of anti-hacking laws on the other. In some countries, mere possession of attack scripts and hacking tools is considered a crime. US law generally prohibits the intrusion onto another person's computer.

“The question is: Are you accessing their machine without authorization or in excess of authorization?” said Mark Rasch, a former assistant US attorney who prosecuted hacking crimes and is the founder of Secure IT experts in Bethesda, Maryland. “If the answer to that question is yes then it's a technical violation of the US computer crimes statutes. In other words, you do so at your own legal peril.” ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.