Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blackhole Exploit Kit

Something I found surprising at first when learning about real-world SQL injection attacks on web applications is that hackers will strive to insert data into the database, not necessarily try to extract data from it. Why would they do this? They want to inject JavaScript code. Basically, the goal is to leverage SQL injection to create a stored XSS attack on application users. It really shows you how supremely dangerous stored XSS vulnerabilities are, huh?

If successful, the malicious JavaScript code will execute in users' browsers. This is bad. Think of it as executable code, chosen by an attacker, running on a victim's computer. One example of the nastiness that can result is the Blackhole Exploit Kit. This malware originated in Russia and is openly for sale. Blackhole is designed to compromise victim computers by exploiting known vulnerabilities in certain software products like Adobe Reader or Java. Symantec researchers have provided a nice writeup of how Blackhole works. Typically, the badness begins with an iframe (created by JavaScript of course) that points to a Blackhole server.

A U.S. Postal Service website was recently found to have been compromised with Blackhole. There is some question how it happened. Regardless, the thing to keep in mind is that a web application that allows for SQL injection might very well lead to stored XSS attacks.

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