Expo Theatre (Hall G) October 22, 2013 - Feedback   

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Matt Johansen

Online advertising networks can be a web hacker’s best friend. For mere pennies per thousand impressions (that means browsers) there are service providers who allow you to broadly distribute arbitrary javascript — even malicious javascript! You are SUPPOSED to use this “feature” to show ads, to track users, and get clicks, but that doesn’t mean you have to abide. Absolutely nothing prevents spending $10, $100, or more to create a massive javascript-driven browser botnet instantly. The real-world power is spooky cool. We know, because we tested it… in-the-wild.

With a few lines of HTML5 and javascript code we’ll demonstrate just how you can easily commandeer browsers to perform DDoS attacks, participate in email spam campaigns, crack hashes and even help brute-force passwords. Put simply, instruct browsers to make HTTP requests they didn’t intend, even something as well-known as Cross-Site Request Forgery. With CSRF, no zero-days or malware is required. Oh, and there is no patch. The Web is supposed to work this way. Also nice, when the user leaves the page, our code vanishes. No traces. No tracks.

Before leveraging advertising networks, the reason this attack scenario didn’t worry many people is because it has always been difficult to scale up, which is to say, simultaneously control enough browsers (aka botnets) to reach critical mass. Previously, web hackers tried poisoning search engine results, phishing users via email, link spamming Facebook, Twitter and instant messages, Cross-Site Scripting attacks, publishing rigged open proxies, and malicious browser plugins. While all useful methods in certain scenarios, they lack simplicity, invisibility, and most importantly — scale. That’s what we want! At a moment’s notice, we will show how it is possible to run javascript on an impressively large number of browsers all at once and no one will be the wiser. Today this is possible, and practical.