08 Mar, 2023

Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Vulnerability Assessment as a Service (VAaaS)

Tests systems and applications for vulnerabilities to address weaknesses.

Security Misconfiguration refers to the situation where a system or application is not properly configured to ensure adequate security.

Browser Security Settings are a collection of settings that determine how web browsers handle various security-related issues. These settings can include things like enabling or disabling cookies, JavaScript, and pop-up windows, as well as configuring security certificates and encryption protocols.

In the context of security misconfiguration, browser security settings refer specifically to situations where the security settings in a browser are not properly configured, leaving the browser vulnerable to attack. This can happen, for example, if a user disables important security features in their browser, or if a website is designed in such a way that it takes advantage of weak browser security settings to execute malicious code or steal sensitive information.

Example of vulnerable code on different programming languages:


in JavaScript:

				
					document.cookie = "sessionID=" + userSessionID;

				
			


This code snippet sets a session ID in the user’s browser cookies, but it does not specify any security settings for the cookie, such as the HttpOnly flag, which can prevent cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

• in Python:

				
					from flask import Flask, make_response

app = Flask(__name__)

@app.route('/')
def index():
    response = make_response(render_template('index.html'))
    response.set_cookie('sessionID', userSessionID)
    return response

				
			


This code snippet uses the Flask framework to set a session ID in the user’s browser cookies. However, the code does not set any security settings for the cookie, such as the Secure flag, which can prevent data interception by attackers over an insecure channel.

• in PHP:

				
					<?php
session_start();
$_SESSION['sessionID'] = userSessionID;
?>

				
			


This code snippet sets a session ID in the user’s session data in PHP. However, the code does not specify any security settings for the session, such as setting the HttpOnly flag, which can prevent session hijacking and XSS attacks.

Examples of exploitation Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Disabling security warnings:

One common mistake is disabling security warnings that alert you when you visit a potentially dangerous website or download a file. This can lead to unintentional installation of malware and exposure to phishing attacks.

Allowing automatic downloads:

Many browsers allow automatic downloads of files, which can be exploited by attackers to download and install malware onto your system. Make sure to disable automatic downloads and only download files from trusted sources.

Not updating browser:

Not keeping your browser updated with the latest security patches can make it vulnerable to exploits that attackers can use to steal your personal information or install malware.

Allowing pop-ups:

Pop-ups are often used in phishing attacks to trick users into giving away personal information or downloading malware. Disable pop-ups in your browser settings to prevent this from happening.

Allowing cookies:

Cookies can be used to track your online activity and steal your personal information. Configure your browser to only accept cookies from trusted websites.

Not using HTTPS:

Make sure to always use HTTPS when browsing websites to protect your sensitive data from being intercepted by attackers.

Disabling security features:

Disabling security features such as cross-site scripting (XSS) protection, click-to-play plugins, and security zones can make your browser vulnerable to attacks.

Privilege escalation techniques for Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated software:

Attackers can exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated browser versions or plugins to gain access to a system or application. This is why it’s important to always keep your browser and plugins up to date.

Leveraging access to other applications:

If an attacker gains access to a less secure application or plugin, they may be able to use that access to escalate their privileges within the browser or operating system.

Modifying browser settings:

Attackers can modify browser settings to disable security features, enable automatic downloads, or allow untrusted websites to execute code. This can give them elevated privileges within the browser and potentially compromise the system.

Stealing cookies:

Cookies can be used to store sensitive information such as login credentials or session tokens. If an attacker can steal these cookies, they can use them to impersonate the victim and gain elevated privileges within the system.

Using social engineering:

Attackers may use social engineering tactics to trick users into granting them elevated privileges within the browser or operating system. For example, they may use phishing attacks to trick users into entering their login credentials or granting access to their system.

General methodology and checklist for Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Methodology:

  1. Identify the target: Identify the target browser or application that you want to test for security misconfigurations. This could be a specific version of a browser or a web application that you use frequently.

  2. Enumerate the attack surface: Enumerate the attack surface by identifying all the potential entry points that an attacker could use to exploit the browser or application. This could include browser settings, browser plugins, web application vulnerabilities, or network configurations.

  3. Analyze the security settings: Analyze the security settings of the browser or application to determine if they are configured securely. This could include checking if security features such as pop-up blockers, cookie management, and automatic downloads are enabled or disabled appropriately.

  4. Test for vulnerabilities: Test for vulnerabilities by using various security testing tools such as vulnerability scanners, penetration testing tools, or browser extensions. These tools can help identify vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that may not be visible through manual inspection.

  5. Verify the vulnerabilities: Verify the vulnerabilities that are identified through testing to ensure they are valid and not false positives. This could include manually testing the application or using additional tools to confirm the vulnerabilities.

  6. Report and remediate: Report the vulnerabilities to the appropriate parties and work with them to remediate the issues. This could include updating the browser or application to the latest version, configuring security settings appropriately, or patching vulnerabilities.

Checklist:

  1. Verify browser updates: Verify that the browser is up to date with the latest security patches and updates.

  2. Disable automatic downloads: Ensure that automatic downloads are disabled or configured to only allow downloads from trusted sources.

  3. Verify pop-up blockers: Verify that pop-up blockers are enabled to prevent pop-up windows that could be used for phishing attacks or malware installation.

  4. Check cookie settings: Check the cookie settings to ensure that only trusted sites are allowed to store cookies.

  5. Verify SSL/TLS usage: Verify that the browser is configured to use SSL/TLS when communicating with websites to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks.

  6. Disable unnecessary plugins: Disable unnecessary plugins that could be used to exploit the browser or execute malicious code.

  7. Check security settings: Check the browser security settings to ensure that they are configured appropriately for your needs, such as disabling JavaScript or enabling two-factor authentication.

  8. Verify website permissions: Verify website permissions to ensure that only trusted websites are granted access to sensitive features such as location tracking, camera, or microphone.

  9. Test for common vulnerabilities: Test for common vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and SQL injection by using automated tools or manual testing techniques.

  10. Verify anti-malware and anti-phishing protections: Verify that anti-malware and anti-phishing protections are enabled to protect against malicious software and phishing attacks.

Tools set for exploiting Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Manual Tools:

  • Browser Developer Tools: These are built-in tools in most web browsers that allow developers to inspect and modify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code. Attackers can also use these tools to identify and exploit security misconfigurations in web applications.

  • Burp Suite: This is a popular web application testing tool that can be used to identify security vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations. It includes a proxy server that intercepts and modifies web traffic, allowing testers to identify and exploit vulnerabilities.

  • OWASP ZAP: This is another popular web application testing tool that includes a proxy server, scanner, and other features for identifying and exploiting security vulnerabilities.

  • Fiddler: This is a web debugging tool that can be used to identify and exploit security misconfigurations in web applications. It includes a proxy server and other features for intercepting and modifying web traffic.

  • Wireshark: This is a network protocol analyzer that can be used to capture and analyze network traffic. Attackers can use Wireshark to identify security misconfigurations and other vulnerabilities in web applications.

  • Nmap: This is a network exploration and security auditing tool that can be used to identify open ports, services, and other vulnerabilities in web applications.

  • Postman: This is a popular API testing tool that can be used to test and identify security misconfigurations in web applications that use APIs.

Automated Tools:

  • Nikto: This is a web server scanner that can be used to identify security misconfigurations and other vulnerabilities in web applications.

  • Arachni: This is a web application scanner that can be used to identify security vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations. It includes features for scanning web applications for vulnerabilities and producing reports.

  • Acunetix: This is a web vulnerability scanner that can be used to identify and exploit security vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations. It includes a scanner, proxy server, and other features for identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities.

  • OpenVAS: This is a vulnerability scanner that can be used to identify security vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations, in web applications and other systems.

  • Nessus: This is a vulnerability scanner that can be used to identify security vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations, in web applications and other systems.

  • Skipfish: This is a web application security scanner that can be used to identify security vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations. It includes a scanner and other features for identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities.

  • Wapiti: This is a web application security scanner that can be used to identify security vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations. It includes a scanner and other features for identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities.

Browser Plugins:

  • HTTP Header Live: This is a browser extension that allows you to view HTTP headers in real-time. It can be used to identify security misconfigurations, such as missing security headers.

  • Wappalyzer: This is a browser extension that can be used to identify the technologies used by web applications, including web servers, programming languages, and other components. It can be used to identify security misconfigurations in these components.

  • HackBar: This is a browser extension that can be used to test and exploit security vulnerabilities in web applications. It includes features for testing SQL injection, XSS, and other vulnerabilities, including security misconfigurations

Average CVSS score of stack Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

The average CVSS score of stack Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings can vary depending on the specific vulnerabilities present in the configuration. However, in general, security misconfigurations related to browser security settings can lead to a range of vulnerabilities, including cross-site scripting (XSS), clickjacking, and other types of attacks.

The CVSS score for a vulnerability is based on several factors, including the impact on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the system, as well as the ease of exploitation. Given the potential severity of the vulnerabilities that can result from misconfigured browser security settings, the average CVSS score for these types of vulnerabilities may be moderate to high.

It’s important to note that the CVSS score should not be the only consideration when evaluating the severity of a vulnerability. Other factors, such as the likelihood of exploitation and the potential impact on the organization, should also be taken into account when assessing the overall risk posed by a security misconfiguration in the browser security settings.

The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)

• CWE-384: Session Fixation: Attackers can exploit insecure browser security settings to hijack users’ sessions and gain unauthorized access to their accounts.

• CWE-477: Use of Obsolete Functions: Obsolete browser security settings can be exploited by attackers to bypass security controls and gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

• CWE-598: Information Exposure Through Query Strings: Query strings in URLs can expose sensitive information if browser security settings are not configured correctly.

• CWE-602: Client-Side Enforcement of Server-Side Security: Client-side browser security settings can be manipulated by attackers to bypass server-side security controls.

• CWE-614: Sensitive Cookie in HTTPS Session Without ‘Secure’ Attribute: Insecure browser security settings can allow sensitive cookies to be transmitted over unsecured HTTP connections, making them vulnerable to interception and tampering.

• CWE-693: Protection Mechanism Failure: Browser security settings can fail to protect against attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS) or cross-site request forgery (CSRF) if they are not properly configured.

• CWE-697: Insufficient Comparison: Browser security settings that rely on comparison operations can be exploited if they do not perform sufficient validation.

• CWE-707: Improper Neutralization of Redirects: Browser security settings that allow automatic redirection can be exploited to redirect users to malicious websites.

• CWE-790: Improper Validation of Certificate: Browser security settings that do not properly validate SSL/TLS certificates can allow attackers to intercept encrypted traffic and steal sensitive data.

• CWE-918: Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF): Browser security settings that allow arbitrary URLs to be requested can be exploited to perform SSRF attacks, which can lead to data theft or server compromise.

CVES related to Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

• CVE-2022-42929 – If a website called <code>window.print()</code> in a particular way, it could cause a denial of service of the browser, which may persist beyond browser restart depending on the user’s session restore settings. This vulnerability affects Thunderbird < 102.4, Firefox ESR < 102.4, and Firefox < 106.

• CVE-2021-43817 – Collabora Online is a collaborative online office suite based on LibreOffice technology. In affected versions a reflected XSS vulnerability was found in Collabora Online. An attacker could inject unescaped HTML into a variable as they created the Collabora Online iframe, and execute scripts inside the context of the Collabora Online iframe. This would give access to a small set of user settings stored in the browser, as well as the session’s authentication token which was also passed in at iframe creation time. Users should upgrade to Collabora Online 6.4.16 or higher or Collabora Online 4.2.20 or higher. Collabora Online Development Edition 21.11 is not affected.

• CVE-2021-32745 – Collabora Online is a collaborative online office suite. A reflected XSS vulnerability was found in Collabora Online prior to version 6.4.9-5. An attacker could inject unescaped HTML into a variable as they created the Collabora Online iframe, and execute scripts inside the context of the Collabora Online iframe. This would give access to a small set of user settings stored in the browser, as well as the session’s authentication token which was also passed in at iframe creation time. The issue is patched in Collabora Online 6.4.9-5. Collabora Online 4.2 is not affected.

• CVE-2021-21261 – Flatpak is a system for building, distributing, and running sandboxed desktop applications on Linux. A bug was discovered in the `flatpak-portal` service that can allow sandboxed applications to execute arbitrary code on the host system (a sandbox escape). This sandbox-escape bug is present in versions from 0.11.4 and before fixed versions 1.8.5 and 1.10.0. The Flatpak portal D-Bus service (`flatpak-portal`, also known by its D-Bus service name `org.freedesktop.portal.Flatpak`) allows apps in a Flatpak sandbox to launch their own subprocesses in a new sandbox instance, either with the same security settings as the caller or with more restrictive security settings. For example, this is used in Flatpak-packaged web browsers such as Chromium to launch subprocesses that will process untrusted web content, and give those subprocesses a more restrictive sandbox than the browser itself. In vulnerable versions, the Flatpak portal service passes caller-specified environment variables to non-sandboxed processes on the host system, and in particular to the `flatpak run` command that is used to launch the new sandbox instance. A malicious or compromised Flatpak app could set environment variables that are trusted by the `flatpak run` command, and use them to execute arbitrary code that is not in a sandbox. As a workaround, this vulnerability can be mitigated by preventing the `flatpak-portal` service from starting, but that mitigation will prevent many Flatpak apps from working correctly. This is fixed in versions 1.8.5 and 1.10.0.

• CVE-2005-4636 – OpenOffice.org 2.0 and earlier, when hyperlinks has been disabled, does not prevent the user from clicking the WWW-browser button in the Hyperlink dialog, which makes it easier for attackers to trick the user into bypassing intended security settings.

Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings exploits

Cross-Site Scripting attacks: XSS attacks occur when a malicious script is injected into a web page, and then executed by a victim’s browser. One common cause of XSS attacks is the failure to properly configure browser security settings, such as disabling cross-site scripting or setting the Content Security Policy (CSP) headers.

Clickjacking: is a technique used by attackers to trick users into clicking on a button or link without their knowledge. This can occur when a website’s iframe is not properly configured to prevent clickjacking, which can result in attackers overlaying an invisible layer over the website and directing users to click on malicious links.

MIME type sniffing: is a feature in some browsers that allows them to detect the type of content that is being served by a website. If a website is not properly configured to send the correct MIME type headers, an attacker can take advantage of this feature to execute malicious scripts or trick the browser into interpreting content in unexpected ways.

Insecure cookie settings: cookies are small pieces of data stored on a user’s computer by a website. If cookies are not properly configured, attackers can gain access to sensitive information, such as session IDs or user credentials, by intercepting and manipulating cookie data.

Mixed content: occurs when a website uses both secure (HTTPS) and insecure (HTTP) connections to serve content. This can occur due to misconfiguration of browser security settings, which can result in attackers intercepting and manipulating traffic.

Practicing in test for Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Keep your browser up to date: Browser vendors frequently release security patches to address known vulnerabilities. Keeping your browser up to date will ensure that you are protected against the latest threats.

Disable third-party cookies: Third-party cookies can be used to track your online behavior, so it’s best to disable them. This setting can usually be found in your browser’s privacy settings.

Enable secure browsing: Make sure your browser is set to use HTTPS (HTTP Secure) for all websites. HTTPS encrypts your data and helps to prevent eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Disable unnecessary plugins: Plugins like Flash and Java can be vulnerable to security exploits. If you don’t need them for a specific website, it’s best to disable them.

Use ad-blockers and anti-malware software: Ad-blockers can help to prevent malicious ads from appearing on websites. Anti-malware software can help to protect your computer from malware and other security threats.

Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication: Strong passwords and two-factor authentication can help to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, making them easy targets for hackers. If you must use a public Wi-Fi network, use a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt your data.

For study Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Cookie settings: Cookies are used by web applications to store session information, preferences, and other data. However, if the cookie settings are not configured correctly, they can be hijacked by attackers. Browser settings should be configured to block third-party cookies and to only accept cookies from trusted sites.

JavaScript settings: JavaScript is a popular scripting language used by web applications. However, malicious JavaScript code can be used to launch attacks such as XSS. Browser settings should be configured to disable or restrict JavaScript on untrusted sites.

Plug-in settings: Plug-ins such as Flash and Java can be used by web applications to display multimedia content. However, these plug-ins are often targeted by attackers because of their security vulnerabilities. Browser settings should be configured to disable or restrict plug-ins on untrusted sites.

Content Security Policy (CSP): CSP is a security standard that allows website owners to specify which sources of content are allowed to be loaded on their pages. A properly configured CSP can help prevent XSS and other content injection attacks.

HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security): HSTS is a security policy that ensures that web browsers communicate only with web servers over a secure HTTPS connection. This helps prevent session hijacking and other attacks that rely on insecure communication channels.

Pop-up blockers: Pop-up blockers can prevent unwanted pop-ups and pop-unders, which can be used to deliver malicious content.

Books with review of Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

Web Application Security: A Beginner’s Guide by Bryan Sullivan, Vincent Liu, and Michael Howard – This book provides an overview of web application security, including a section on security misconfigurations and best practices for configuring browser security settings.

The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws by Dafydd Stuttard and Marcus Pinto – This comprehensive guide to web application security covers all aspects of web security, including misconfigurations and browser security settings.

Hacking Exposed Web Applications: Web Application Security Secrets and Solutions by Joel Scambray, Mike Shema, and Caleb Sima – This book covers web application security from the attacker’s perspective, including how to identify and exploit security misconfigurations.

OWASP Testing Guide v4 by OWASP – This open-source guide to testing web applications for security vulnerabilities includes a section on browser security settings and how misconfigurations can lead to vulnerabilities.

Real-World Bug Hunting: A Field Guide to Web Hacking by Peter Yaworski – This book provides practical advice for finding and exploiting security vulnerabilities in web applications, including misconfigurations related to browser security settings.

Breaking into Information Security: Learning the Ropes 101 by Josh More and Anthony Stieber – This book covers the basics of information security, including web application security and the importance of configuring browser security settings correctly.

Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking by Georgia Weidman – This book provides an introduction to penetration testing, including how to identify and exploit security misconfigurations related to browser security settings.

Mastering Modern Web Penetration Testing by Prakhar Prasad – This book covers modern web application security testing techniques, including how to identify and exploit misconfigurations related to browser security settings.

Web Security for Developers: Real Threats, Practical Defense by Malcolm McDonald and Jason Rahm – This book covers web application security from a developer’s perspective, including how to avoid security misconfigurations related to browser security settings.

Security Testing Handbook for Banking Applications by Anmol Misra and Abhinav Singh – This book provides guidance on testing the security of banking applications, including how to identify and remediate misconfigurations related to browser security settings.

List of payloads Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

  • Weak Passwords: Failing to enforce a strong password policy for web applications or using weak passwords for admin accounts.

  • Cookie Security: Failing to set the “secure” and “HTTP-only” flags on session cookies, which can expose user sessions to session hijacking attacks.

  • Clickjacking: Not implementing measures to prevent clickjacking attacks, which involve tricking users into clicking on something that they didn’t intend to.

  • Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS): Misconfiguring the CORS policy can allow attackers to perform cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks and steal sensitive data.

  • Content Security Policy (CSP): Not properly implementing a CSP can lead to the execution of malicious code, including XSS attacks.

  • TLS Configuration: Failing to properly configure TLS can result in sensitive data being transmitted over an insecure connection, putting it at risk of interception.

  • Same-Origin Policy: Not enforcing the Same-Origin Policy can allow attackers to access sensitive data from other sites.

  • Malware Protection: Failing to implement malware protection measures can allow attackers to distribute malware through your website.

  • Outdated Software: Running outdated browser versions or plug-ins can expose users to known vulnerabilities that have been fixed in newer versions.

  • Mixed Content: Failing to prevent the loading of insecure content (e.g. HTTP content on an HTTPS page) can lead to security vulnerabilities.

How to be protected from Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

  1. Keep your browser and plug-ins up-to-date: Make sure you’re using the latest version of your browser and regularly check for updates. Also, keep your plug-ins, such as Flash and Java, up-to-date.

  2. Use strong passwords: Use complex, unique passwords for your accounts and enable two-factor authentication where possible.

  3. Configure your browser security settings: Configure your browser security settings to prevent or warn you about certain types of attacks, such as pop-ups and cookies. Also, make sure you’re using a secure connection (HTTPS) when accessing sensitive websites.

  4. Use browser extensions: Install browser extensions that can help protect you from certain types of attacks, such as ad-blockers and script-blockers.

  5. Enable automatic updates: Enable automatic updates for your browser and plug-ins to ensure that you’re always running the latest version with the latest security fixes.

  6. Check for mixed content warnings: Check for warnings about mixed content when accessing websites. If you see warnings, avoid entering any sensitive information on that website.

  7. Use anti-malware software: Install and regularly update anti-malware software to protect your system from malicious software.

  8. Stay informed: Stay up-to-date on the latest security threats and how to protect yourself by reading security blogs and following security experts on social media.

Mitigations for Security Misconfiguration: Browser Security Settings

  1. Update your browser regularly: Keep your browser up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.

  2. Use secure connections: Ensure that your browser uses HTTPS instead of HTTP when connecting to websites. This helps protect your data from eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

  3. Disable browser extensions: Disable browser extensions that you don’t need or trust, as they may have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers.

  4. Enable popup blocker: Enable the popup blocker in your browser to prevent malicious popups from appearing on your screen.

  5. Use a password manager: Use a password manager to generate strong, unique passwords for each website you use. This helps prevent attackers from gaining access to your accounts through password guessing or cracking.

  6. Clear your browsing data: Regularly clear your browsing history, cookies, and cache to reduce the risk of attackers gaining access to your sensitive information.

  7. Enable two-factor authentication: Enable two-factor authentication for your online accounts to add an extra layer of security.

Conclusion

Security misconfigurations related to browser security settings can leave your system vulnerable to attacks and compromise your sensitive information. It is important to ensure that your browser’s security settings are configured appropriately to protect yourself from threats like malware, phishing attacks, and identity theft. Some recommended steps to improve browser security include keeping your browser up-to-date, enabling privacy and security settings, using browser extensions or add-ons for added security, and being cautious of suspicious websites and downloads. By taking these precautions and staying informed about the latest threats, you can help ensure that your online activities remain safe and secure.

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