Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Certificate-based Client Authentication in WebApp PenTests

One of the key attack tools to perform effective Web Application Penetration Tests (WebApp PenTest) are interception proxies, allowing the analyst to inspect and modify all the requests and responses exchanged between the web browser and the target web application. Some of the most popular ones are developed in Java, such as Paros, Webscarab or Burp, being the Java platform a prerequisite to run.

Sun/Oracle has recently released new updates for Java: Java 6 Update 19 on March 2010, fixing 27 security issues, and Java 6 Update 20 on April 2010, including a couple of fixes. If you have updated the Java version of your pentesting system (You did, didn't you?), you must be aware that your interception proxies won't be able to audit web applications that make use of client X.509 certificates for authentication. This specifically affects pentests on e-government and e-banking web applications making use of client certificates, such as those stored on smart cards (like some European national identity cards); in particular for Spain, dozens of websites integrate authentication through the electronic national id card, "DNI electronico" (DNIe).

The reason is that Java 6 Update 19 includes a fix for the famous SSL/TLS renegotiation vulnerability from November 2009 (CVE-2009-3555). The SSL/TLS renegotiation feature is specifically used by certificate-based client authentication, and the fix disables SSL/TLS renegotiation in the Java Secure Sockets Extension (JSSE) by default. As a result, when you try to access a web resource that requires certificate-based client authentication through the interception proxy, it generates the following Java SSL/TLS error message ( "HelloRequest followed by an unexpected  handshake message".

Webscarab error message:

Burp error message:

However, it is still possible to re-enable the SSL/TLS renegotiation in Java by setting the new system property to true before the JSSE library is initialized. The following Windows command line launches Burp with SSL/TLS renegotiation enabled:

C:\>java -jar -Xmx512m "C:\Program Files\burpsuite_pro_v1.3\burpsuite_pro_v1.3.jar"

Keep your WebApp PenTests rolling!

Shameless plug: Interested on learning the art of WebApp PenTesting? I will be teaching SANS SEC542, "Web Application Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking", in London (May 10-15, 2010) in English and in Madrid (September 20-25, 2010) in Spanish.


Anonymous said...

Además, se puede usar el fork de paros Andiparos con soporte para smartcard...muy util en estos casos! :)

Jesús Jiménez

Raul Siles said...

Please, as the Taddong Security Blog is written in English, send your comments in English too :) Thanks!

In the comment above, Jesús Jiménez recommends a fork from the well-known Paros Proxy, called Andiparos. It has client certificate and smartcard support. Check it out!

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