Tag Archives: Review

Burp and Samurai-Web Testing Framework

The other day I came across a social media post that was about utilizing Burp Suite to identify vulnerabilities in web applications. I had heard of Burp before but never really had the chance to play around with it – until now.

Just like a lot of other security tools, Burp has a community version along with its commercial product. I decided to download the free edition from here in my home lab.  The installation process is straight forward and in no time you have Burp up and running. Here is how the initial interface looks like:


Right when I finished my installation of  Burp, I realized that I did not have a web application running in my lab that I could use to test Burp against. Bummer! Now I had to decide between setting up a web server myself or finding a commercial distribution that came pre-built with one. This was a no-brainer – and within minutes I found a few distributions that were designed for testing and learning web application security; such as: SamuraiWTF, WebGoat and Kali Web Application Metapackages. I decided to go with SamuraiWTF.

SamuraiWTF gives you the option to run from a live disk or install it in a VM. I decided to install the VM. Here is a good guide on the installation process. I give my VM instance 4GB RAM and 3 cores; more than enough horsepower.

This distribution comes pre-installed with Mutillidae, which is a “free, open source, deliberately vulnerable web-application providing a target for web-security enthusiasts”. This was perfect for what I was looking for. Setting up the Mutillidae in pretty simple – all I had to do was change my network configurations to NAT and that was it. However, if you need more information on configuration here are some great video guides on Mutillidae; in fact I used some of these myself while configuring Burp to work with Mutilliade.

After finishing all of the above prep work, I was ready to run Burp!

For those who are not familiar with Burp, its an interception proxy which sits between your browser and the web server and by doing so it is able to intercept requests/responses and provides you the ability to manipulate the content. To do so you have to configure Burp as your proxy. On your VM, this would be your local host (Proxy Tab > Options):


Likewise, you would have to configure your browser to that same proxy. Here is my proxy configuration on Firefox:

Firefox Proxy Configuration

Now as you navigate through your Mutilliadae webpage, all your requests should go through Burp. One thing you have to do is turn on the Intercept option in Burp. Its under Proxy > Intercept.

What this allows you to do is see the request as its made but gives you the control to either forward it to the web server or simply drop the request (like a typical MiTM). For example, on the login page of Mutilliade i used admin name and admin123 password. And as soon as I hit “Login” I saw the request being made from my browser to the webserver in Burp:

Burp Intercept

In the screenshot above, you can see the two options: Forward and Drop. If you hit forward, the web server will receive this request from your browser and will respond as it would normally. In this case, the account I used to login did not exist:

Web Server Respose

Burp has the capability to also capture the responses. It is an option that you can turn on by going to Proxy > Options and towards the middle of the page you will see “Intercept Server Responses”. By turning this on you will be able to see and control both sides of the requests:

Request and Response

If you look under Target > Site Map; on the left pane you will see list of all the sites that you have visited with the Burp proxy on:

History Map

One advantage of the above feature is that it allows you to go back and revisit requests and responses. The sites that are in grey color are those that are available on the target web page but you have not visited them.

Another neat feature is that if you do not want to visit each page individually you can run the “Spider” feature which will map the whole target page for you.


If you go under Spider > Control you are able to see the status of the Spider as it runs:

Spider Status

When you intercept request or response, you have the ability to send that to other features of Burp. You are able to view these additional options by right clicking on the intercept:

Intercept Additional Options

Towards the bottom of the official Burp Suite guide page here you can see a brief description of most of the options shown in the screenshot above. The one i found really neat is the “Repeater” option which allows you to modify and re-transmit requests repeatedly without having the need to perform new intercepts each time.

This concludes my brief journey of getting started with Burp using SamuraiWTF. There is whole lot more than I had the chance to explore but here is a great reference for advance topics.

Below  is a quick blurb on some of Burps features:

Spider: crawls the target and saves the numerous webpages that are on the target.

Intruder: automated attack feature which tries to automagically determine which parameters can be targeted i.e. fuzzing.

Fuzzing options: Sniper (fuzz each position one-by-one), Battering Ram (all positions on the target receive one payload), Pitchfork (each target position is fuzzed in parallel) Cluster Bomb (repeats through payloads for multiple positions at once).

Proxy: used to capture requests & responses to either just monitor or manipulate and replay.

Scope: controls what (pages, sites) is in/out of the test “scope”.

Repeater: manually resubmit requests/responses; allows modification.

Sequencer: used to detect predictability of session tokens using various built-in tests i.e. FIPS 140-2.

Decoder: allows encoding/decoding of the target data i.e. BASE64, Hex, Gzip, ASCII, etc.

Comparer: allows side-by-side analysis between two requests/responses.


Tagged , ,

Nexpose Scanner – Quick Setup

My last blog post was related to setting up Nessus home edition scanner for your lab to do testing. Nessus is properly what I am most familiar with and I like it. I also have some experience using Qualys scanner but it has been couple years since I have used it. However, the scanning technology that I have only heard of but never actually used is Nexpose. So for that reason I figured I give it a try.

Similar to other commercial scanning technologies, there is a community edition of Nexpose that you can download in your home lab for testing from here.

They have a pretty straight forward user/installation guide here, which I followed in my installation. But just in-case, here is the high level overview of how I did my setup.

  • Selected the VMWare Virtual Appliance option of the Community Edition
    • Completed the online forum and received the activation code in the email
    • The download contains 1.02GB of .ova file called NexposeVA.ova
  • I opened that file using VMWare Workstation
    • Please note that by default, it allocates 8GB of memory, 2 processors and 160GB of disk space. So, please modify these settings if you do not have those resources available before you power-on the VM.
  • After the VM completely boots, you will login using the following credentials: login: nexpose password: nexpose (please change this)
    • If you just want to complete the most basic setup and want to get up and running immediately without messing with any of the advance configurations or upgrades, the only configuration you need to do is networking. The virtual appliance is setup in bridge mode by default and should be able to get you an IP automatically. But if you need to give it static IP then you will have to do that manually.
  • At this point you are pretty much done with the setup. You will be able to complete the rest of the setup by accessing your Nexpose instance by typing following in your browser: https://%5BVM-IP-Address%5D:3780
    • The default username for the web interface is: nxadmin and the password is: nxpassword
    • After your first logon, the initlization process will take some time. For me, it was about 5-7 minutes.

Login Page

  • Like I said earlier, this was my first time using Nexpose so I did not know the exact steps to follow after logging in. But my goal was to run couple different scans against all of my lab machines (14 active IPs). So, without reading the user guide and only spending sometime familiarizing myself with the interface, following is the approach I took to setup my scans.
  • Create a “New Static Site
    • To me, this is similar to the Organization in Nessus (SecurityCenter)
    • Assets: here you provide the name of your site, list all of the IPs (assets) that are part of this site. I added my 14 IPs here.
    • Scan Setup: this is where you choose the type of scan. I personally did not like the scan setup option being part of the Site Configuration because each time you need to run a different type of a scan it seems like that you need to go and edit the site.
    • Credentials: In the next tab you can provide credentials. I like how it gives you the option to restrict each credentials to specific IP.
    • Web Application: next there is option for doing authenticated scans against a web application target. I did not explore this since I don’t have a test web application, yet.
    • Organization and Access: these two seem optional: Organization information and the ability to restrict access to this site to selected users.

Site Configuration

  • At this point you are ready to kick of your scan. Simply go back to your home page and find the “Scan Now” option towards the middle of the page. New window will come up and notice there you have the option to change Site; if you have multiple sites. But by default the site that you created in the previous step should be selected and you should see all of you assets (IPs) listed. And if you want to run the scan against all of those assets you kick it off by clicking “Start Now” but if you want to exclude some IPs or run it against only specific IP you can do that on this same screen.

Start New Scan

  • In the next screen you will be able to see the scan progress in real time.

Scan Progress

  • You will be able to see the scan results right after the scan completes. The scan results seen below are from a non-credentialed, exhausted scan against my lab machines.

Scan Results

  • The screenshot below shows the vulnerabilities tab of the web interface. You will notice the two columns that represent malware and exploit present; right before CVSS and Risk columns. This feature is different from Nessus but I like it. I think the commercial version of Nexpose allows you to take this to the next step and actually run an exploit.


  • The last feature that I wanted to explore was reporting. By default, there are several report templates that are available for you to select from:

All Report Templates

  • By simply selecting the template that you want from above you can choose the file format (PDF, XML, Excel), the scope (individual scan, assets like, from filters) and lastly the report frequency.
  • Here is the same report from my lab asset group:

Sample Report

This concludes the basic, quick deployment and walk-through of the commercial Nexpose. By using the virtual appliance option, the deployment is almost effort-less. And even after the deployment, setting up assets and kicking off basic scans from templates is straight forward. I will continue to use it on my lab machines and will share any new things that I discover that are worth sharing with new users!

Tagged , ,

Nessus Scanner – Quick Setup

Unfortunately, after my last CDR post  – for some unrelated reason, I had my main lab system crash and now I have to rebuild most of the different lab machines that I had before. Obviously this is little frustrating because I had everything setup the way I wanted it and now I have to pretty much start from scratch. But to make this rebuilding process little more pleasant and productive, I think I am going to document and share some of the labs that I am going to build. Most of these are going to be pretty simple to setup without much difficulty using VMware Workstation. I am not going to go over setting up VMware Workstation since there are already a ton of YouTube videos on it.

First we are going to select the platform that we are going to use for most of these machines – our choice: Ubuntu 13 Desktop.

The first tool that we are going to install is Nessus vulnerability scanner. In the first CDR project, we used Nessus as one of our reconnaissances tool along with Nmap. However, this tool can be used in just your lab or home network for identifying vulnerabilities in your systems.

We are going to be installing the latest version of Nessus v6 Home – as of this post. For the operating system, we will choose Ubuntu 11.10, 12.04, 12.10, 13.04, 13.10, and 14.04 AMD64 and download the .deb package.

Here are the sequence of commands after you have downloaded the package and opened the appropriate download directory in the terminal.

Nessus_installationWe are pretty much done. The only thing you need to check is if the Nessus service is running. Usually, it starts automatically but you can verify by running: service nessusd status. If the output shows stopped then simply run the following to start it: service nessusd start.

After above, open your browser and type your ip and port 8834. You can find your ip address by running ifconfig in your terminal. My ip address on this machine is:



You should get a similar page as above. Follow through the prompt and in couple screens you will have the option to create an initial account for your Nessus scanner. After that you will need to provide Plugin Feed Registration. For home use you can request the activation code by completing the following: http://www.tenable.com/products/nessus-home

After completing all the steps thus far – you are done with installing your Nessus scanner. Now you need to configure you scans. Following are the basic steps to configure a scan:

New Scan > Basic Network Scan > [Complete the General Page with the Name of the Scan and the target IPs]. On the left side you have additional scan options that you can play around with. After you are done with making your selections, simply hit save and your scan will automatically start. The scan duration depends on the number of IPs that you are scanning and if they are credentialed or  non-credentialed.

After your scan completes you will be able to see the scan results and drill down on each host to see the details on the findings.  Later you can also run just reports against previously ran scan.

This is pretty much all you need to do for the basic setup. Feel free to run more scans and try to run credentialed scan as they will provide most comprehensive vulnerability information and its also least intrusive on your target systems.

Until next time!


Tagged , ,

Physical Drive Image With Plugable USB Hub

The other day I was trying to image a physical 250GB desktop hard drive using FTK Imager but I continued to get the following error under status: Failed: The specified network name is no longer available. This was the first time that I received this error so first I was not sure what caused it. Here was my setup:

The error was little random in that it would fail at different places – anywhere between 2% – 13%. My first thought was that the docking station was bad; so I took out my WiebeTech write-blocker and attempted to image the drive again. But I received the same error at 6%. At this point I knew that the docking station was fine and that the problem had to be with either the FTK Imager software, Windows Server 2012 (my first time using Server 2012 during imagining) or the USB hub. I decided to start with the hub; I unplugged the docking station from the hub and connected it directly to the server’s USB port – skipping the hub completely. I started FTK Imager and began the imagining process – and to my surprise the imaging completed without any errors!

From the 7 ports provided by the hub, only one port was being utilized (connected only to the docking station) eliminating the possibility of overwhelmed hub. In fact, the hub worked fine when I copied large operating system .iso files from an external hard drive to the server. So, I am not sure where the problem is within the hub but in this situation I was unable to image a relatively small hard drive due to this hub.


Support For Your Anti-Virus

Few months ago I published two blogs around having additional layers of security for your home computers. You can read them here: part 1 and part 2. The goal of those two blogs were to first bring awareness – using my personal experience around how we simply cannot rely on anti-virus software to protect our personal computers. And second to demonstrate how effective some free browser extensions are in reducing unwanted and potentially malicious programs from downloading in the background without much of our knowledge or interaction.

This blog is not exactly a continuation of the other two but it is definitely related. While in the previous posts I focused on free extensions, however in this post I want to talk about an application that is though not free but definitely worth looking into.

The EXE Radar Pro application from NoVirusThanks group (besides this particular software this group has bunch of free and extremely useful online utilities that I have been using for sometime and you should check those out too!). As far as the EXE Radar Pro goes – it is for $19.99 with the option to try free for 30 days. They do a pretty straight forward job explaining what the software does so I won’t waste time repeating what is already there. Instead I will briefly explain my experience with this software; both the pros and cons.

First the pros: the software is easy to install and seems to get to work immediately. There isn’t a lot of configuration or overly complicated interface that you need to worry about; it simply sits in your windows tray and all of the management is done by selecting the tray icon. Some of the more specific features that I like about this software is that I think this is the closest that you can get to an enterprise level endpoint monitoring software for such a low price. The software pretty much tracks all the running system processes, the associated parent process and monitors as new processes start. You also have to ability to tag  processes to either a blacklist or a whitelist based on what you think should be allowed or blocked. The software does prompt you when it thinks a suspicious/unknown process is trying to run. I believe some of the basic checks that it does to determine a good from a bad process it by simply checking if the process itself is digitally signed and if the process is making any specific/unusual command arguments. If fact it presents all this information on the prompt dialog:

EXE Radar Pro - Prompt Alert


From the dialog above you can simply choose to allow, block or use the drop down arrow to add the process to either the white/black list.  While the above dialog box is well designed and self explanatory – I also experienced some annoying cons with this dialog. For example, when you are prompted with the dialog box you do not have the option to ignore it. You can move it around the screen to get it out of the way but you have to make the decision to either allow/block. In addition, until you make your selection – you will not be able to execute another process. For example, when the above prompt came up on my screen and I wanted to take the screenshot using the Microsoft built-in snipping tool – I was not able to because the snipping application would not execute until I made my selection on the dialog box (I was able to do it using the keyboard print screen key).

Second major con that I experienced is that on each boot of the system there would a half-dozen prompts that I had to go through before the system would be fully up and functional. I understand that there is some learning that is involved in the beginning for the software but even after two weeks and several whitelistings I would still receive numerous prompt during startup. And as you can imagine, when you are trying to get something done quickly – these prompt becoming irritating. In fact, one of the applications that EXE Radar Pro did not like in particular was Splunk. Well before I downloaded EXE Radar Pro – I had the Splunk Free installed on the computer to do basic log analysis. But when I installed EXE Radar Pro – I would constantly get prompts. Eventually, I became irritated and ended up uninstalling Splunk from the system. In fact, even during the uninstall process of Splunk, I had to hit Allow at least 8 times before the uninstall process completed.

Overall, EXE Radar Pro is a good software for personal use because it provides that additional layer of protection and control around what runs in your system. I would say that while the interface is simple and self explanatory – an average user may not appreciate the frequency of the prompts, the technical  details and the decision making that would be required. On the other hand, if you like have such visibility and control of your system then for $19.99 you cannot go wrong with this software!



Zotero Review

Browser extension: Zotero

The most difficult part in the research process is keeping track of all of your sources. The traditional methods have been that you print all the pages that you visit, or copy and paste the text from the web sources onto a Word document. However, the problem with those methods is not only are they troublesome but also the chance of misplacing them are greater. Moreover, when you are done with your paper and you have to create citation for each of your sources one-by-one is not only time consuming but also increases factor of human error.

Zotero is a free Mozilla Firefox add-on which makes it easy to organize your sources and searches. It does that by saving the snapshot of the pages and saving the links. The best feature of the add-on is that it automatically creates citation for your saved sources in both APA and MLA format. In addition, since it is fully compatible with both Microsoft Office and Open Office; you can directory copy your citation into those softwares.

Another great feature that I like is that you are able to sync your files with Zotero’s online server. This provides not only sense of security that your files are backed up, but also if you log-in from an alternative computer you can still view all your saved sources. In addition, Zotero allow you to share your source with other people. For that, all you have to do is create a new group, place the files that you want to share and sync. You can send invitation to your group to as many people as you want and they can all view and make changes to your document. This makes group collaboration much easier.

Personally, I’ve been just introduced to Zotero and I love all the user-friendly features that it has to offer. Whenever I am surfing the internet and I come across any article of news that I could use later I simply open Zotero add-on and save a snapshot. In addition, Zotero’s highlight feature comes very handy as well. It allows me to highlight text right from the snapshot so that when I come back to that article I know exactly why I saved it in the original place.

Zotero is still an underdevelopment project. It has a dedicated link on its home page which allows enthusiastic individuals to contribute their new ideas or making improvements. For new user, they have great support page which comprehensively explain all the great features of Zotero.

The only thing that I am on the lookout for is Zotero coming onto different browser platforms. Currently it is only support by Mozilla Firefox but that holds a certain disadvantage against it. In addition, I have noticed in occasional events that the sync features takes longer than usually. This could be due to their storage or the format that they are using.

Overall, I think Zotero is a great free tool for everyone who wants to efficiently save time and sources. I most favorite feature of Zotero is highlight and share. I am sure that the few glitches that Zotero currently has will soon disappear.