Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

9/1/2009
03:49 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Flaw In Sears Website Left Database Open To Attack

Business-logic flaw in Sears.com Web application could have let hackers brute-force attack the retailer's gift card database

A newly discovered vulnerability on Sears.com could have allowed attackers to raid the retail giant's gift card database.

Alex Firmani, owner of Merge Design and a researcher, this week revealed a major security hole on Sears.com that could allow an attacker to easily steal valid gift cards -- a heist he estimates could be worth millions of dollars. Firmani says he alerted Sears about the flaw, and that Sears has since "plugged" the hole by removing the feature that let customers verify and check their gift-card balances.

The vulnerability was a business logic flaw in a Web application that handles gift card account inquiries; Firmani was able to stage a brute-force attack that could grab all valid, active Sears and Kmart gift cards from the company's database.

Firmani says the site wasn't auditing verification requests, which allowed him to verify gift card and PIN combinations using a homegrown PHP script that automatically submitted the requests. "I wrote a PHP script to hammer their verification server. It happily replied with thousands of verification responses per minute," he says.

The Sears application relied on client-side cookies to halt brute-force verification attempts, which Firmani says wasn't effective. "They should know where the verification requests come from, log them all, and be able to disable the verifications when they have a malicious attack," he says. "It doesn't appear to me that they had any server-side control over how many verifications were done."

Jeremiah Grossman, CTO of WhiteHat Security, says this type of flaw is probably fairly common on retailer Websites. And unlike a cross-site scripting or SQL injection bug, this business logic flaw is different: "It basically lets an attacker defraud Sears.com directly," Grossman says.

Firmani's discovery came on the heels of reports of multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities on Sears' Web pages that were abused by an attacker to deface the Website.

"I thought this was notable with Sears being a Fortune 50 company," he says. "I have not tested many other large retailers, but I would hope most of them take better care than this. For smaller sites that write their own gift-card verification code, I'd expect just as many are vulnerable."

Firmani, who says he discloses Website flaws to site owners in order to highlight common Web application security issues, suggests that Sears require a valid user account login before allowing a verification request to be sent. "You could then record the number of verification requests and lock out any offending accounts automatically and without relying on client-side cookie," he wrote in his disclosure paper. "Recording requests server-side would be a more reliable way of handling repeat request offenders."

Another option is recording to a server-side database IP addresses of users verifying their gift cards, he said, as well as using a "number-used once" scheme in the verification form or logging all verification requests and using a script to shut down the response server if more than a specifically designated number of requests arrive per minute, he said.

"Security these days is less about what version of Apache you're running and more about custom-written Web applications. With Web apps given unfettered database access, it becomes a simple matter of exploiting less-than-solid Web application programming," Firmani says. "Finding holes in home-brewed Web app code is much easier than exploiting a root-escalation bug on a Linux server, but both often have similar database access."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-17210
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in PrinterOn Central Print Services (CPS) through 4.1.4. The core components that create and launch a print job do not perform complete verification of the session cookie that is supplied to them. As a result, an attacker with guest/pseudo-guest level permissions can bypass t...
CVE-2019-12934
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in the wp-code-highlightjs plugin through 0.6.2 for WordPress. wp-admin/options-general.php?page=wp-code-highlight-js allows CSRF, as demonstrated by an XSS payload in the hljs_additional_css parameter.
CVE-2019-9229
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered on AudioCodes Mediant 500L-MSBR, 500-MBSR, M800B-MSBR and 800C-MSBR devices with firmware versions F7.20A to F7.20A.251. An internal interface exposed to the link-local address 169.254.254.253 allows attackers in the local network to access multiple quagga VTYs. Attackers can...
CVE-2019-12815
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
An arbitrary file copy vulnerability in mod_copy in ProFTPD up to 1.3.5b allows for remote code execution and information disclosure without authentication, a related issue to CVE-2015-3306.
CVE-2019-13569
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
A SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Icegram Email Subscribers & Newsletters plugin through 4.1.7 for WordPress. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary SQL commands on the affected system.