Hacker Log: Pathway to Successful Site Attack

Tuesday, 3 December 2002, 2:09 PM EST

A few fairly simple practices would have prevented my successful attack on eWeek's OpenHack site. The bottom line is that application security can be attained, but it must be consistently applied and methodically checked to be effective.

Rather than focusing on one of the five OpenHack challenges presented by eWeek, I decided to try to find any security problems I could.

My attempt to hack the site began by making a quick pass through the Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. versions of the OpenHack application, both to get an idea of their scope and an overview of their architecture.

The first decision I made was to determine which application would be more vulnerable.

While registering for an account, I noticed some inconsistencies in the Oracle version, where nonrequired items such as "title" generated unexpected error messages. This is not a security hole per se, but it did indicate a lack of consistency, which I felt was the most likely avenue of vulnerability in an application with the security attention that this one had received.

After using the Oracle OpenHack application for a few minutes, it appeared that the application used a common routine for conducting field input validation. I began looking for fields that stood out as being different, in the hope that one or more of these fields might have been overlooked or that the standard checks might prove ineffective.

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