Monday, April 07, 2014

Bypassing the XSS filter using function reassignment

The XSS filter introduced in IE8 is a really powerful defence against XSS. I tested the filter for a number of years and found various bypasses one of which I would like to share with you now. You can read more about the filter and its goal in the following blog post.

Scope

There have been numerous public bypasses of the filter however very few within the intended scope of the filter. The filter blocks reflected XSS in HTML context, script, style and event context. It does not support attacks that use multiple parameters or same origin requests. Once you are aware of the intended scope the difficulty of bypassing the filter is very high.

Function reassignment

This bypass was fixed in later versions of Internet Explorer but still works in compatibility mode. You can use the vector in a penetration test by forcing the target site into compatibility mode using an iframe with an EmulateIE7 meta element as shown below.

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />

This loads IE in emulate mode and the entire JavaScript engine will revert to an older mode enabling the vector to function. We need to setup a page with the target input inside a function argument in order to demonstrate the bypass. As you can see below the parameter "x" appears inside a string which calls the function "x".


<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />
<script>
function x() {

}
<?php
$x = isset($_GET['x']) ? $_GET['x'] : '';
?>
x('<?php echo $x?&gtl');
</script>

In older versions of Internet Explorer it's possible to redefine a function within its calling arguments. This is very useful for bypassing the filter when your XSS hole executes within a function argument. To see how this works we pass a GET request to "x" within a payload that redefines the function "x" to alert and uses an argument before our break out string to pass to the function. The GET request looks like this:
somepage.php?x=1′,x=alert,'

The output of the page now looks like this:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />
<script>
function x() {

}
x('1',x=alert,'');
</script>

"1" is inserted at the start of the argument then we break out of the string and redefine the function "x" to alert then finish up by completing the string. The alert function only accepts 1 argument so our other arguments are ignored and alert(1) executes successfully.

Conclusion

As mentioned previously this vector was patched in later versions of IE however it will still work where a target site is in compatibility mode or you can force it into the older mode using iframes. The newer JavaScript engines in IE will not allow you to redefine functions within arguments. To protect against this vector you can force your site into standards mode by specifying a doctype or using the X-UA-Compatible header or meta element in edge mode. Preventing your site from being framed is also a good idea using the X-Frames-Option header and of course fixing the actual XSS hole in the first place is preferred.

 

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