CAPEC-86 - Embedding Script (XSS) in HTTP Headers

An attack of this type exploits web applications that generate web content, such as links in a HTML page, based on unvalidated or improperly validated data submitted by other actors. XSS in HTTP Headers attacks target the HTTP headers which are hidden from most users and may not be validated by web applications.

Severity

Likelihood

Confidentiality

Integrity

Availability

  • Attack Methods 3
  • Injection
  • Modification of Resources
  • Protocol Manipulation
  • Purposes 2
  • Penetration
  • Exploitation
  • Scopes 3
  • Execute unauthorized code or commands
  • Availability
  • Integrity
  • Confidentiality
  • Read application data
  • Confidentiality
  • Gain privileges / assume identity
  • Authorization
  • Access_Control
  • Confidentiality

Low level: To achieve a redirection and use of less trusted source, an attacker can simply edit HTTP Headers that are sent to client machine.

High level: Exploiting a client side vulnerability to inject malicious scripts into the browser's executable process.

Target software must be a client that allows scripting communication from remote hosts, and attacker must control a remote site of some sort to redirect client and data to.

Ability to deploy a custom hostile service for access by targeted clients. Ability to communicate synchronously or asynchronously with client machine

Step 1 - Spider

Using a browser or an automated tool, an attacker follows all public links on a web site. He records all the entry points (input) that becomes part of generated HTTP header (not only GET/POST/COOKIE, but also Content-Type, etc.).

Tecnique ID: 1 - Environment(s) env-Web

Use a spidering tool to follow and record all links and analyze the web pages to find entry points. Make special note of any links that include parameters used in the HTTP headers.

Tecnique ID: 2 - Environment(s) env-Web

Look for HTML meta tags that could be injectable

Tecnique ID: 3 - Environment(s) env-Web

Use a proxy tool to record all links visited during a manual traversal of the web application.

Tecnique ID: 4 - Environment(s) env-Web

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

Indicator ID: 1 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Positive

Web content is generated by the application and served to the browser based on user-controllable inputs.

Indicator ID: 2 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Positive

HTTP header variables are used by the application or the browser (DOM)

Indicator ID: 3 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Inconclusive

No HTTP variables appear to be used on the current page. Even though none appear, the web application may still use them if they are provided.

Indicator ID: 4 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Negative

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


Security Control ID: 1

Type: Detective

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).

Security Control ID: 2

Type: Detective

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.

Security Control ID: 3

Type: Preventative

Use CAPTCHA to prevent the use of the application by an automated tool.

Security Control ID: 4

Type: Preventative

Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be automated.


Outcome ID: 1

Type: Success

A list of URLs, with their corresponding HTTP variables is created by the attacker.



Step 1 - Probe identified potential entry points for XSS vulnerability

The attacker uses the entry points gathered in the "Explore" phase as a target list and injects various common script payloads to determine if an entry point actually represents a vulnerability and to characterize the extent to which the vulnerability can be exploited. He records all the responses from the server that include unmodified versions of his script..

Tecnique ID: 1 - Environment(s) env-Web

Manually inject various script payloads into each identified entry point using a list of common script injection probes and observe system behavior to determine if script was executed.

Tecnique ID: 2 - Environment(s) env-Web

Use an automated injection attack tool to inject various script payloads into each identified entry point using a list of common script injection probes and observe system behavior to determine if script was executed.

Tecnique ID: 3 - Environment(s) env-Web

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

Indicator ID: 1 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Positive

User-controllable input is embedded as part of generated HTTP headers

Indicator ID: 2 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Positive

Input parameters become part of the web page (even in meta tags)

Indicator ID: 3 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Positive

Output to the browser is not encoded to remove executable scripting syntax.

Indicator ID: 4 - Environment(s) env-Web

Type: Inconclusive

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.


Security Control ID: 1

Type: Detective

Monitor input to web servers (not only GET, but all in the inputs), 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.

Security Control ID: 2

Type: Preventative

Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax

Security Control ID: 3

Type: Preventative

Do not embed user-controllable input generated HTTP headers

Security Control ID: 4

Type: Preventative

Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.


Outcome ID: 1

Type: Success

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.)

Outcome ID: 2

Type: Failure

All HTML-sensitive characters are consistently re-encoded before being sent to the web browser.

Outcome ID: 3

Type: Inconclusive

Some sensitive characters are consistently encoded, but others are not.



Step 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..

Tecnique ID: 1 - Environment(s) env-Web

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.

Tecnique ID: 2 - Environment(s) env-Web

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.

Security Control ID: 1

Type: Detective

Monitor server logs for scripting parameters.

Security Control ID: 2

Type: Detective

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.

Security Control ID: 3

Type: Preventative

Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax

Security Control ID: 4

Type: Preventative

Appropriately encode all browser output to avoid scripting syntax

Security Control ID: 5

Type: Preventative

Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.


Outcome ID: 1

Type: Success

The attacker gets the user's cookies or other session identifiers.

Outcome ID: 2

Type: Success

The attacker gets the content of the page the user is viewing.

Outcome ID: 3

Type: Success

The attacker causes the user's browser to visit a page with malicious content.


Step 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)..

Tecnique ID: 1 - Environment(s) env-Web

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

Tecnique ID: 2 - Environment(s) env-Web

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).

Security Control ID: 1

Type: Detective

Monitor server logs for scripting parameters.

Security Control ID: 2

Type: Detective

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.

Security Control ID: 3

Type: Preventative

Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax

Security Control ID: 4

Type: Preventative

Appropriately encode all browser output to avoid scripting syntax

Security Control ID: 5

Type: Preventative

Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.


Outcome ID: 1

Type: Success

The attacker indirectly controls the user's browser and makes it performing actions exploiting CSRF.

Outcome ID: 2

Type: Success

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.


Step 3 - Content spoofing

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

Tecnique ID: 1 - Environment(s) env-Web

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.

Security Control ID: 1

Type: Detective

Monitor server logs for scripting parameters.

Security Control ID: 2

Type: Detective

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.

Security Control ID: 3

Type: Preventative

Apply appropriate input validation to filter all user-controllable input of scripting syntax

Security Control ID: 4

Type: Preventative

Appropriately encode all browser output to avoid scripting syntax

Security Control ID: 5

Type: Preventative

Actively monitor the application and either deny or redirect requests from origins that appear to be generating XSS probes.


Outcome ID: 1

Type: Success

The user sees a page containing wrong information



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.

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.