Posts

Cached and Confused: Web Cache Deception in the Wild

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Web cache deception (WCD) is an attack proposed in 2017, where an attacker tricks a caching proxy into erroneously storing private information transmitted over the Internet and subsequently gains unauthorized access to that cached data. Due to the widespread use of web caches and, in particular, the use of massive networks of caching proxies deployed by content distribution network (CDN) providers as a critical component of the Internet, WCD puts a substantial population of Internet users at risk.

We present the first large-scale study that quantifies the prevalence of WCD in 340 high-profile sites among the Alexa Top 5K. Our analysis reveals WCD vulnerabilities that leak private user data as well as secret authentication and authorization tokens that can be leveraged by an attacker to mount damaging web application attacks. Furthermore, we explore WCD in a scientific framework as an instance of the path confusion class of attacks, and demonstrate that variations on the path confusio…

HotFuzz: Discovering Algorithmic Denial-of-Service Vulnerabilities Through Guided Micro-Fuzzing

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Contemporary fuzz testing techniques focus on identifying memory corruption vulnerabilities that allow adversaries to achieve either remote code execution or information disclosure. Meanwhile, Algorithmic Complexity (AC)vulnerabilities, which are a common attack vector for denial-of-service attacks, remain an understudied threat. In this paper, we present HotFuzz, a framework for automatically discovering AC vulnerabilities in Java libraries. HotFuzz uses micro-fuzzing, a genetic algorithm that evolves arbitrary Java objects in order to trigger the worst-case performance for a method under test. We define Small Recursive Instantiation (SRI) as a technique to derive seed inputs represented as Java objects to micro-fuzzing. After micro-fuzzing, HotFuzz synthesizes test cases that triggered AC vulnerabilities into Java programs and monitors their execution in order to reproduce vulnerabilities outside the fuzzing framework. HotFuzz outputs those programs that exhibit high CPU utilizatio…

A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard

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Programmatic advertising provides digital ad buyers with the convenience of purchasing ad impressions through Real Time Bidding (RTB) auctions. However, programmatic advertising has also given rise to a novel form of ad fraud known as domain spoofing, in which attackers sell counterfeit impressions that claim to be from high-value publishers. To mitigate domain spoofing, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab introduced the ads.txt standard in May 2017 to help ad buyers verify authorized digital ad sellers, as well as to promote overall transparency in programmatic advertising.

In this work, we present a 15-month longitudinal, observational study of the ads.txt standard. We do this to understand (1) if it is helping ad buyers to combat domain spoofing and (2) whether the transparency offered by the standard can provide useful data to researchers and privacy advocates.

With respect to halting domain spoofing, we observe that over 60% of Alexa Top-100K publishers have adopte…

Understanding and Mitigating the Security Risks of Content Inclusion in Web Browsers

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Thanks to the wide range of features offered by web browsers, modern websites include various types of content such as JavaScript and CSS in order to create interactive user interfaces. Browser vendors also provided extensions to enhance web browsers with additional useful capabilities that are not necessarily maintained or supported by default.

However, included content can introduce security risks to users of these websites, unbeknownst to both website operators and users. In addition, the browser's interpretation of the resource URLs may be very different from how the web server resolves the URL to determine which resource should be returned to the browser. The URL may not correspond to an actual server-side file system structure at all, or the web server may internally rewrite parts of the URL. This semantic disconnect between web browsers and web servers in interpreting relative paths (path confusion) could be exploited by Relative Path Overwrite (RPO). On the other hand, ev…

On the Effectiveness of Type-based Control Flow Integrity

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Control flow integrity (CFI) has received significant attention in the community to combat control hijacking attacks in the presence of memory corruption vulnerabilities. The challenges in creating a practical CFI has resulted in the development of a new type of CFI based on runtime type checking (RTC). RTC-based CFI has been implemented in a number of recent practical efforts such as GRSecurity Reuse Attack Protector (RAP) and LLVM-CFI. While there has been a number of previous efforts that studied the strengths and limitations of other types of CFI techniques, little has been done to evaluate the RTC-based CFI.

In this work, we study the effectiveness of RTC from the security and practicality aspects. From the security perspective, we observe that type collisions are abundant in sufficiently large code bases but exploiting them to build a functional attack is not straightforward. Then we show how an attacker can successfully bypass RTC techniques using a variant of ROP attacks that…

How Tracking Companies Circumvented Ad Blockers Using WebSockets

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In this study of 100,000 websites, we document how Advertising and Analytics (A&A) companies have used WebSockets to bypass ad blocking, exfiltrate user tracking data, and deliver advertisements. Specifically, our measurements investigate how a long-standing bug in Chrome’s (the world’s most popular browser) chrome.webRequest API prevented blocking extensions from being able to interpose on WebSocket connections.

We conducted large-scale crawls of top publishers before and after this bug was patched in April 2017 to examine which A&A companies were using WebSockets, what information was being transferred, and whether companies altered their behavior after the patch. We find that a small but persistent group of A&A companies use WebSockets, and that several of them engaged in troubling behavior, such as browser fingerprinting, exfiltrating the DOM, and serving advertisements, that would have circumvented blocking due to the Chrome bug.

ACM Internet Measurement Conference (I…

How Tracking Companies Circumvent Ad Blockers Using WebSockets

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In this study of 100,000 websites, we document how Advertising and Analytics (A&A) companies have used WebSockets to bypass ad blocking, exfiltrate user tracking data, and deliver advertisements. Specifically, we leverage a longstanding bug in Chrome (the world’s most popular browser) in the chrome.webRequest API that prevented blocking extensions from being able to interpose on WebSocket connections.

We conducted large-scale crawls of top publishers before and after this bug was patched in April 2017 to examine which A&A companies were using WebSockets, what information was being transferred, and whether companies altered their behavior after the patch. We find that a small but persistent group of A&A companies use WebSockets, and that several of them are engaging in troubling behavior, such as browser fingerprinting, exfiltrating the DOM, and serving advertisements, that would have circumvented blocking due to the Chrome bug.
IEEE S&P Workshop on Technology and Consu…