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Risk

7/26/2007
08:15 AM
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It's More Than JavaScript

There are lots of other ways an attacker can have fun with your Web applications

4:15 PM -- JavaScript has gotten a bad rap in recent years -- no thanks to me and my colleagues and friends in the security research community. But it gets a lot of blame where blame isn’t necessarily due.

JavaScript isn't the only client-side technology that exposes users to security threats. Java, ActiveX, VBScript, and Flash all represent potentially dangerous technologies that could allow a malicious attacker to exploit unsuspecting Web surfers. Cross-site scripting has made the situation worse, because suddenly improper filters in a benign Website now allows attackers to add their malicious code.

The most popular solution for this sort of attack is "turn off JavaScript." But in the four other technologies listed, JavaScript isn't a requirement to perform the nefarious tasks -- and turning it off won't solve the problem.

Next week at the Black Hat conference, Jeremiah Grossman and I will be speaking about these "other" attacks in our talk entitled "Hacking Intranet Websites from the Outside (Take 2): Fun With and Without JavaScript Malware." The session will look at some of the exploits that can be performed without the requirement for JavaScript –- and some ways to attack the mitigation strategies developed by people who think that JavaScript is the only culprit.

Without using JavaScript, an attacker can do intranet port scanning, history theft, cross site request forgeries, and more. Jeremiah Grossman will describe these attacks and explain why simply turning off JavaScript is no longer a valid response to many Internet threats.

Still, JavaScript and VBScript are the languages of choice for browser exploitation, and they are the origin of the vast majority of exploits. That said, I will show how, as a man-in-the-middle, an attacker can bypass some of the policies employed by security software designed to protect against these attacks.

Our talk will also explain why modern laptops are being treated as firewalls, and how their privileged access using VPNs can lead to intranet exploitation and information leakage.

We're a long way from solving these problems completely. But, as a community, we are beginning to really understand the full extent of the problem.

— RSnake is a red-blooded lumberjack whose rants can also be found at Ha.ckers and F*the.net. Special to Dark Reading

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