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Round-up: Ways to bypass HttpOnly (and HTTP Basic auth)
From: "Amit Klein (AKsecurity)" <aksecurity () hotpop com>
Date: Wed, 03 May 2006 12:47:20 +0200

As you know, the HttpOnly field in Set-Cookie is a Microsoft extension to the Cookie 
standard, designed to make it harder to grab cookies through XSS attacks. Likewise, 
HTTP Basic Authentication is sometimes mentioned as an "XSS resistent" mechanism.

On the other hand, several attacks against the above techniques cropped up in the
recent few years, and I'd like to summarize them in this message. All attacks assume
an XSS condition in the application (actually, on the host for which the cookies/basic
auth is used), and using this XSS condition, the data in the HttpOnly cookie/basic
auth is read.

1. "Cross Site Tracing" (Jeremiah Grossman, January 2003) - 

Exploiting the TRACE method on the server to echo back request data.

2. Other XmlHttpRequest tricks (Amit Klein, January 2003) - 
http://www.modsecurity.org/archive/amit/xst_attack_variants.txt , 

Trick 1: Assuming that there is a malicious virtual server hosted on the same
machine (virtual hosting) with the attack target - injecting a bogus Host
header to the XmlHttpRequest object causes the request to arrive to the 
malicious server.

Trick 2: Assuming that there is a proxy server on the target host (or an intermediate proxy 
server somewhere along the request path), injecting a proxy-style URL through the method 
of XmlHttpRequest to cause the request to arrive at a malicious host.

3. "XST Strikes Back" (Amit Klein, January 2006) - 

Variation on Jeremiah Grossman's "Cross Site Tracing" technique (#1 above),
using the TRACE support by intermediate proxy servers (assuming there is at
least one such proxy on the request path).

4. "HTTP Request Smuggling" (Chaim Linhart, Amit Klein, Ronen Heled and Steve Orrin, June 
2005) - http://www.cgisecurity.com/lib/HTTP-Request-Smuggling.pdf

Assuming an intermediary proxy server, demonstrates how an XSS condition can be elevated 
into obtaining the request data - see "Example #4 - Request Hijacking".

5. Last but not least, there's a simple technique which I don't remember was publicly
discussed (though I may be wrong here - please let me know if this is well known):

Assuming there's a debug/test/... script on the server, which prints out the HTTP
request headers, then an attack is trivial. 
Among those scripts:

You'll see the incoming cookies in HTTP_COOKIE. I'm not sure about HTTP Basic Auth though 
(I expected to see it in HTTP_AUTHORIZATION, but it seems that the servers handle this 
header and do not provide it in the ENV variables).

Note that many of these scripts are not recommended in production environments due to
their very nature of disclosing sensitive info (about the system configuration, paths, 
etc.) as well as their tendency towards being vulnerable to XSS. Yet even if they sanitize 
user input (HTTP headers) and they do not disclose sensitive info, they're still a problem 
when combined with HttpOnly/basic auth.

Bottom line: there are many known attacks against HttpOnly (and
against Basic auth), that is, many known ways to elevate "standard" XSS condition to
be able to grab session info/credentials stored in HttpOnly cookies/HTTP Basic auth.


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