Posts tagged "hacking"

Adobe @ DefCon 2017

A few weeks ago we joined fellow members of the Adobe security team at Defcon 2017. The conference attendance has grown in size over the years as security has become a mainstream in today’s world. We were looking forward to the great line up of briefings, villages, and capture the flag (CTF) contests – Defcon never disappoints.

Here are some of the briefings this year that we found interesting and valuable to our work here at Adobe.

“A New Era of SSRF – Exploiting URL Parser in Trending Programming Languages” by Orange Tsai

The best part of this presentation was that it was very hands-on and less theoretical – something we look forward to in a presentation at DefCon. The presentation discussed zero-day vulnerabilities in URL parsers and requesters for widely-used languages like Java, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, and more. It was really helpful since Adobe is a multilingual shop. They also discussed about the mitigation strategies. Orange Tsai, the presenter, followed the talk with an interesting demo. He chained 4 different vulnerabilities together including SSRF, CRLF injection, unsafe marshal in memcache, and ruby gem to perform a RCE (Remote Code Execution) on Github Enterprise. The combined technique was called “Protocol Smuggling.” It earned him a bounty of $12,500 from GitHub.

“First SHA-1 collision” presented by Elie Bursztein from Google

This was one of the presentations most looked forward to by attendees – there was a significant wait to even get in. This presentation was super helpful since they demoed how an attacker could forge PDF documents to have the same hash yet different content. We really appreciated the effort that has been put into the research from the anti-abuse team within Google. This work was based on cryptanalysis – considered to be 100,000 times more effective than a brute-force attack. For the tech community, these findings emphasize the need for reducing SHA-1 usage. Google has advocated the deprecation of SHA-1 for many years, particularly when it comes to signing TLS certificates. The team also briefly discussed safer hashing algorithms such as SHA256 and bcrypt. They also spent some time discussing the future of hash security.

“Friday the 13th: JSON Attacks!” by Alvaro Muñoz and Oleksandr Mirosh

The briefing kicked off with examples of deserialization attacks and an explanation of how 2016 came to be known as the year of the “Java Deserialization Apocalypse.” The talk focused on JSON libraries which allow arbitrary code execution upon deserialization of untrusted data. It was followed by a walkthrough of deserialization vulnerabilities in some of the most common Java and .NET libraries. The talk emphasized that the format used for serialization is irrelevant for deserialization attacks. It could be binary data, text such as XML, JSON, or even custom binary formats. The presenter noted that serializers cannot be trusted with untrusted data. The talk provided guidance on detecting if a serializer could be attacked. The briefing ended with the speakers providing mitigation advice to help avoid vulnerable configurations that could leave serialization libraries vulnerable. This briefing was particularly valuable as it helped us better understand JSON attacks, how to discover vulnerable deserialization library configurations, and how to mitigate known issues.

“CableTap: Wirelessly Tapping Your Home Network” by Chris Grayson, Logan Lamb, and Marc Newlin

At this briefing, presenters discussed 26 critical vulnerabilities they discovered in some of the major ISP provided network devices. They also showcased some cool attack chains enabling someone to take complete control over these devices and their network.

Hacking Village

One of the other major highlights of Defcon 25 was the Voting Machine Village. For the first time ever US voting machines were brought into the Hacking Village. Many vulnerabilities were found in these machines over the course of DefCon. It was also reported that the machines were hacked in under 2 hours. The Recon-village also never fails to deliver the best of social engineering exploits. It reminds us of the importance of security training and education. Additionally, the demo labs were thought provoking. We found a lot of tools to potentially add to our toolkits. A couple of the cool ones included Android Tamer by Anant Srivastava which focused on Android Security and EAPHammer – a toolkit for targeted twin attacks on WPA2-Enterprise networks by Gabriel Ryan.

Overall these industry events provide a great opportunity for our own security researchers to mingle with and learn from the broader security community. They help keep our knowledge and skills up-to-date. They also provide invaluable tools to help us better mitigate threats and continue to evolve our Adobe SPLC (Secure Product Lifecycle) process.

Lakshmi Sudheer & Narayan Gowraj
Security Researchers

Building Better Security Takes a Village

Hacker Village was introduced at Adobe Tech Summit in 2015. The Hacker Village was designed to provide hands-on, interactive learning about common security attacks that could target Adobe systems and services. Hacker Village was created to illustrate why certain security vulnerabilities create a risk for Adobe. More traditional training techniques can sometimes fall short when trying to communicate the impact that a significant vulnerability can have on organization. Hacker Village provides real-world examples for our teams by showing how hackers might successfully attack a system- illustrating using the same techniques those attackers often use. In 2015, it consisted of six booths. Each booth was focused on a specific type of industry common attack (cross-site scripting, SQL injection, etc.) or other security-related topic. The concept was to encourage our engineers to challenge themselves by “thinking like a hacker” and attempt to be successful with various known exploits in web applications, cryptography, and more.

The first iteration of Hacker Village was a success. Most of the participants completed multiple labs, with many visiting all six booths. The feedback was positive and the practical knowledge gained was helpful for all of our engineering teams across the country.

2017 brought the return of Hacker Village to Tech Summit. We wanted to build on the success of the first Hacker Village by bringing back some revised versions of the popular booths. 2017 saw new iterations of systems hacking using Metasploit, password cracking with John the Ripper, and more advanced web application vulnerability exploitation. This year we introduced some exciting new booths as well. Visitors were able to attempt to bypass firewalls to gain network access or attempt to spy on network traffic with a “man in the middle” attack. The hardware hacking booth challenged participants to take over a computer via USB port exploits like a USB “Rubber Ducky.” Elsewhere, participants could deploy their own honeypot with a RaspberryPi at the honeypot booth or attempt hacks of connected smart devices in the Internet of Things booth.

Since we did not have enough room in the first iteration for all that were interested from our engineering teams, we made sure to increase the available space to allow a broader group of engineers access to the Village. We increased the number of booths from six to eight and more than doubled the number of lab stations. With the increased number of stations, participation nearly doubled as well. The feedback was very positive once again with the only complaint being that everyone wanted a lot more time to try out new ideas.

We are currently considering a “travelling” Hacker Village as well – a more portable version that can be set up at additional Adobe office locations and at times in between our regular Tech Summits. The Hacker Village is just one of the many programs we have at Adobe for building a better security culture.

Taylor Lobb
Manager, Security and Privacy

The Adobe Security Team at RSA Conference 2017

It feels like we just got through the last “world’s largest security conference,” but here we are again. While the weather is not looking to be the best this year (although this is our rainy season, so we Bay Area folks do consider this “normal”), the Adobe security team would again like to welcome all of you descending on our home turf here in San Francisco next week, February 13 – 17, 2017.

This year, I will be emceeing the Executive Security Action Forum (ESAF) taking place on Monday, February 13th, to kick off the conference. I hope to see many of you there.

On Thursday, February 16th, from 9:15 – 10:00 a.m in Moscone South Room 301, our own Mike Mellor and Bryce Kunz will also be speaking in the “Cloud Security and Virtualization” track on the topic of “Orchestration Ownage: Exploiting Container-Centric Data Center Platforms.” This session will be a live coaching session illustrating how to hack the popular DC/OS container operating environment. We hope the information you learn from this live demo will give you the ammunition you need to take home and better protect your own container environments. This year you are able to pre-register for conference sessions. We expect this one to be popular given the live hacking demo, so, please try and grab a seat if you have not already.

As always, members of our security teams and myself will be attending the conference to network, learn about the latest trends in the security industry, and share our knowledge. Looking forward to seeing you.

Brad Arkin
Chief Security Officer

Applying the SANS Cybersecurity Engineering Graduate Certification to Adobe’s Secure Product Lifecycle (part 2 of 2)

In the first part of this series I discussed how the SANS Cybersecurity Engineering Graduate Certificate helped me analyze the Heartbleed vulnerability and how it applied to static code analysis. This resulted in the paper “The Role of Static Analysis in Heartbleed.” Now I’ll focus on what was learned in the final part of the program and how we can apply this to our efforts here at Adobe.

The course on “Hacking Techniques and Incident Response” taught some of the techniques that attackers use to compromise systems. It also provided an overview of  the forensic tools that are used to detect those attacks. In addition to the labs, students were given access to the NetWars platform. NetWars is a simulated cyber range where you can practice offensive and defensive cybersecurity techniques against live systems. Practical hands on experience is key when doing incident response and the platform facilitates this learning. The highlight of the week was being able to use the NetWars system in a competition format solving real-world problems.

The final course on “Advanced Network Intrusion Detection and Analysis” started with “bit bootcamp” and explored the lower levels of the networking stack. We were taught how to decode packets and truly understand all of the network communication that is occurring on a given computing device. The second part of the class was focused on learning how to deploy network utilities like Snort, Bro, and Silk for network analysis. The SANS at Night talks were also very useful as they allowed me to hear about recent vulnerabilities faced by the security industry as a whole and discuss potential solutions.

There were numerous techniques taught in both of these classes and through Netwars that were directly relevant to working on Adobe Photoshop and our related Creative Cloud services. While I was familiar with Charles and BurpSuite to do web session debugging, these classes allowed me to truly understand how to use deeper features of these tools to determine types of traffic being sent across the network. They also helped me understand when and how to carve the network traffic in order to focus on a smaller set of packets which can then be manually inspected in tools like Wireshark. These tools are great for testing for accidental information disclosure as well as proper authorization checks on cookies.

Taking the techniques learned during professional development and applying them directly to a set of problems on the job is the best you can hope for in any training.  The tools and information  from these classes has already helped in our ongoing efforts to make Photoshop a more secure product.

Jeff Sass
Engineering Manager, Photoshop

Hacktoberfest 2015

Autumn has arrived, and National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with it. We wanted to celebrate and raise awareness about security at Adobe. What could be better than bringing hands on training, a capture the flag competition and beer together in a single day across the world? That is exactly what we did and we called it Hacktoberfest.

Around 160 people in the US, Europe and India came together on October 14th to take part in a full day focused on security. The day progressed from a broad, hands-on threat modeling training to learning tools like Burp Suite to a Capture the Flag event for prizes.

We saw a lot of new faces at this event; no doubt due to the prizes offered for the capture the flag. There was also a diverse skill set present in the room; from people in nontechnical roles to those that have a lot of experience pen testing internally. We learned that our community is hungry for training and a deeper understanding of security. All of the material, except for one training, was developed in-house.

When most people’s interaction with security training is spent with computer-based training, there is great value in bringing people together in a face-to-face event where they can interact not only with the trainers, but also with each other. While we’ve done smaller, more targeted trainings in the past, this was the first truly global event.

People really loved the hands on nature of the day, we had responses like: “I thought the capture the flag event was incredibly fun and engaging.” and “I liked the demonstration on how to use Burp Suite to attack a service/site.”

One of the unique aspects of the day was its global nature. Essentially two events were run, one in the US time zones and one in India. We did our best to create the same experience for the two groups while paying attention to their different content needs. All presentations were local and questions could be answered in real time.

Of course, the most popular event of the day was the Capture the Flag event. One of our researchers, took it upon himself to create an environment to host the game. It’s called WOPR and we will be providing more information on it soon. Two other researchers worked to create the challenges for the game.

There was quite a lot of energy in all of those conference rooms as people engaged with the training and the competition. The most important lesson we learned from this exercise is that people at Adobe, all around the world, care about securing our products.


Josh Kebbel-Wyen
Sr. Security Program Manager, Training

Top 10 Web Hacking Techniques of 2014

This year, I once again had the privilege to be one of judges for the “Top 10 Web Hacking Techniques” list that is organized by Matt Johansen and Johnathan Kuskos of the WhiteHat Security team. This is a great honor and a lot of fun to do, although the task of voting also requires a lot of reflection. A significant amount of work went into finding the issues, and that should be respected in the analysis for the top spot. This blog reflects my personal interpretation of the nominees this year.

My first job as a judge is to establish my criteria for judging. For instance:

  • Did the issue involve original or creative research?
  • What was the ultimate severity of the issue?
  • How many people could be affected by the vulnerability?
  • Did the finding change the conversation in the security community?

The last question is what made judging this years entries different from previous years. Many of the bugs were creative and could be damaging for a large number of people. However, for several of the top entries, the attention that they received helped change the conversation in the security industry.

A common trend in this year’s top 10 was the need to update third-party libraries. Obviously, Heartbleed (#1) and POODLE (#3) brought attention to keeping OpenSSL up-to-date. However, if you read the details on the Misfortune Cookie attack (#5), there was the following:

AllegroSoft issued a fixed version to address the Misfortune Cookie vulnerability in 2005, which was provided to licensed manufacturers. The patch propagation cycle, however, is incredibly slow (sometimes non-existent) with these types of devices. We can confirm many devices today still ship with the vulnerable version in place. 

Third-party libraries can be difficult to track and maintain in large organizations and large projects. Kymberlee Price and Jake Kouns spent the year giving great presentations on the risks of third-party code and how to deal with it.

Heartbleed and Shellshock were also part of the year of making attacks media-friendly by providing designer logos. Many of us rolled our eyes at how the logos drew additional media attention to the issues. Although, it is impossible to ignore how the added media attention helped expedite difficult projects such as the deprecation of SSLv3. Looking beyond the logos, these bugs had other attributes which made them accessible in terms of tracking and understanding the severity. For instance, besides a memorable name, Heartbleed included a detailed FAQ which helped to quickly explain the bug’s impact. Typically, a researcher would have had to dig through source code changelists which is difficult or consult HeartBleed’s CVSS score (5 out of 10) which can be misleading. Once you remove the cynicism from the logo discussion, the question that remains is what can the industry learn from these events that will allow our industry to better communicate critical information to a mass audience?

In addition, these vulnerabilities brought attention to the discussion around the “many eyes make all bugs shallow” theory. Shell Shock was a vulnerability that went undetected for years in the default shell used by most security engineers. Once security engineers began reviewing the code affected by Shell Shock, three other CVEs were identified within the same week. The remote code execution in Apache Struts ClassLoader (#8) was another example of a vulnerability in a popular open-source project. The Heartbleed vulnerability prompted the creation of the Core Infrastructure Initiative to formally assist with projects like OpenSSL, OpenSSH and the Network Time Protocol. Prior to the CII, OpenSSL only received about $2,000 per year in donations. The CII funding makes it possible to pursue projects such as having the NCC Group’s consultants audit OpenSSL.

In addition to bugs in third-party libraries, there was also some creative original research. For instance, the Rosetta Flash vulnerability (#4) combined the fact that the JSONP protocol allows attackers to control the first few bytes of a response with the fact that ZLIB compression format allows you to define the characters used for compression. Combining these two issues meant that an attacker could bounce a specially crafted, ZLIB-compressed SWF file off of a JSONP endpoint to get it to execute in their domain context. This technique worked on JSONP endpoints for several popular websites. Rather than asking JSONP endpoints to add data validation, Adobe changed Flash Player so that SWFs restrict the types of ZLIB-compressed data that is accepted.

The 6th and 7th issues on the list both dealt with authentication issues that reminded us that authentication systems are a complex network of trust. The research into “Hacking PayPal with One Click” (#6) combined three different bugs to create a CSRF attack against PayPal. While the details around the “Google Two-Factor Authentication Bypass” weren’t completely clear, it also reminded us that many trust systems are chained together. Two-factor authentication systems frequently rely on your phone. If you can social engineer a mobile carrier to redirect the victim’s account, then you can subvert the second factor in two-factor authentication.

The last two issues dealt with more subtle issues than remote code execution. Both show how little things can matter. The Facebook DDOS attack (#9) leveraged the simple support of image tags in the Notes service. If you include enough image tags on enough notes, then you could get over 100 Facebook servers generating traffic to the target. Lastly, “Covert Timing Channels based on HTTP Cache Headers” (#10) looked at ways hidden messages can be conveyed via headers that would otherwise be ignored in most traffic analysis.

Overall, this year was interesting in terms of how the bugs changed our industry. For instance, the fact that a large portion of the industry was dependent on OpenSSL was well known. However, without Heartbleed, the funding to have a major consulting firm perform a formal security audit would have never been made possible. Research from POODLE demonstrated that significant sites in the Alexa Top 1000 hadn’t adopted TLS which has been around since 1999. POODLE helped force the industry to accelerate the migration forward off of SSLv3 and onto TLS. In February, the PCI standard’s council announced, “because of these weaknesses, no version of SSL meets PCI SSC’s definition of ‘strong cryptography.” When a researcher’s work identifies a major risk, then that is clearly important within the scope of that one product or service. When a researcher’s work can help inspire changing the course of the industry, then that is truly remarkable.

For those attending RSA Conference, Matt Johansen and Johnathan Kuskos will be presenting the details of the Top 10 Web Hacking Techniques of 2014 on April 24 at 9:00 AM.


Peleus Uhley
Lead Security Strategist