Shritam Bhowmick Explains HTTP Parameter Contamination

HTTP Parameter Contamination

By Shritam Bhowmick
Web Application Penetration Tester
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=281014248&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile
Academia: https://independent.academia.edu/ShritamBhowmick
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coded32

Earlier on my previous post about Enterprise HTTP Security, I described how HTTP Security is a fine clockwork for an application penetration tester; this post would look into deeper aspect of HTTP Security and how logical manipulation of HTTP could be potentially used by an attacker to manifest the underlying application level vulnerabilities bypassing any security restrictions which were in place originally.

In terms of application development during the standard phases, multi-tier application architecture is prevalent. The multi-tier architecture is a client-server architecture, where the presentation, the application processing and the data management is a complete separate processes. In basic terms, the multi-tier architecture are convenient for developers. The reason they are convenient for developers is the fact that developers have to re-use code and develop applications in which the whole application framework needn’t have to be written all over again. They could only modify parts of the application architecture based on tiers and profit flexibility in the use of such applications. The unfortunate part is the handling of the same data over multiple platform can lead to security breach, or leave the application vulnerable. Logical errors are triggered this way and are completely different from Injection based attacks such as:

  • LDAP/Blind LDAP Injections
  • XML Injection
  • HTML Injection
  • SQL Injection
  • ORM based Injection
  • Spring Injection/nHibernate Injection
  • Xpath Injection
  • Command Injection

All of the above mentioned ‘injection’ variants fall into code level application vulnerabilities and is completely different from ‘logical’ vulnerabilities which still have a greater level of impact on the web applications. During my old research at early phases of dissection behavioral pattern of different platform based application on different web-architectures, I found these led to couple of logical based vulnerabilities which could be used by an attacker for benefits. This lead self-curiosity to further research and I came up concluding something which already existed called ‘HTTP Parameter Contamination or HPC’. During my research at Defencely, I found out this particular attack methodology does not only rely on a specific platform but is widely used across many other different web based platforms, such as PHP on Apache, ASP.NET on IIS, etc.

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