I have now completed the first course in my queue! Since the last post, I have been digging into website hacking. This is of course a big area and a massive element of day-to-day information security. I went through various avenues and implementations of SQL injection attacks, XSS (Cross Site Scripting) attacks, and more. I also learned about protecting against these sorts of attacks, and had a brief introduction into how vulnerability scanning can be automated with scanning tools. Of course, once you have your scan output ready, put it into Dradis and produce a custom no-fuss report!
Trying out the SQL injection procedures was based on attacking a fake vulnerable web server in Metasploitable. Insecure database calls in SQL on a website or web application can let attackers extract or modify information, or grant access even without passwords. An SQL injection vulnerability on one site can potentially undermine the security of all sites and applications hosted on that one web server. As the instructor said, if there is an SQL injection vulnerability on the target site, bingo, game over, you as an attacker can ultimately do virtually anything you want with that site.
With XSS vulnerabilities, you essentially insert scripts to run from a site. As an example, there may be a commenting feature on a web page with an XSS vulnerability, which means that this XSS script would run for all visitors to that page. What makes this insidious is that the script would run for visitors to the page, as it’s not part of the base web page. An insecure website could therefore jeopardize the security of third parties – and therefore, owners of web pages, web applications, and web hosts have a responsibility to protect their sites so third parties are not affected.
The course closed with a very brief introduction to ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy), one of many tools to automate scanning for vulnerabilities. The point of this course was to show the theory behind security vulnerabilities, and the sort of attacks that can be carried out by hackers. Now that I have been introduced to the nuts-and-bolts, step-by-step methods of attacking devices and applications, the path is open to learning more about particular focus areas and to think about scripting and automation. I do have some more studies coming up to these ends. I intend to learn more about hacking using Android, I need to learn more about networking vulnerabilities, and I would like to learn more about scripting and vulnerability scan automation through software like ZAP and Burp, both of which have official Dradis plugins. I already manipulate their plugin outputs most days when building Dradis templates, so it would be fun to create those outputs as well!