Report: LulzSec Used SQL Injection, XSS and RFI

Tuesday night security firm Impervia sent over a copy of a report set to go live Wednesday at noon PST, detailing its findings after analyzing the leaked LulzSec chat logs provided by The Guardian. Essentially the now-disbanded hacker group used three attack vectors: SQL Injection, Cross Site Scripting (XSS) and Remote File Include (RFI). The report thus points out the SQL Injection and XSS are the most common Web security vulnerabilities, and that enterprise security continues to ignore these two common vulnerabilities.

"Lulzsec was a team of hackers focused on breaking applications and databases," the company reports. "There were no virus or malware experts. Even their approach to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks relied on weaknesses in applications. We hope this episode helps bring attention to the fact that the center of gravity has shifted from firewalls and anti-virus to applications and databases. For security, this does not mean 'we have updated our anti-virus and put in place a network firewall.' Rather, it means 'we have identified all sensitive data and have put in place technology with the audit and protection capabilities required to safeguard that data.'"

The report, written by Impervia director of security strategy Rob Rachwald, then goes on to break down the three LulzSec tools – Remote File Include, SQL Injection and Cross site Scripting – which also includes chat log references. Here's the full scoop:

Tool #1: Remote File Include

The relevant snippet from the chat log (emphasis ours):

lol - storm would you also like the RFI/LFI bot with Google bypass i was talking about while i have this plugged in?

Remember that lol is Kayla who brought a bot army to Lulsec’s toolbox. The key in the snippet above is "RFI" or remote file include. We published an extensive overview (pdf) of RFI about two months ago. Lulzsec used RFI to get bots to DDoS websites, which is how they brought down the CIA's public site.

In our report, we said that RFI "attacks have the potential to cause as much damage as the more popular SQL Injection and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks." We also noted that RFI is "not widely discussed." The key here is "not widely discussed." In other words, Lulzsec used an often overlooked vulnerability to help ambush their targets. An RFI attack inserts some nasty code into a web application server. What does the code do? Usually, RFI is used to take over the web application and steal data. In the case of Lulzsec, they used it to conduct DDoS attacks. The second line, "8,000 RFI with usp flooder" tells you that lol had 8000 infected servers (not PCs!) to conduct the DDoS attacks. That’s pretty sizable. How much so? In our webinar on DDoS 2.0, we estimated that one infected server is equal to 3,000 bot infected PCs, so 8,000 server would be like 2.5M PCs.

Finally, our report gives some suggestions on countering RFI attacks.

Tool #2: SQL Injection

Jun 03 13:18:44 [redacted] you mean with the coupons?
Jun 03 13:18:57 [redacted] was it from that SQLi
Jun 03 13:21:57 sabu yeah

Volumes have been written about SQL injection. What more can we possibly write about the biggest vulnerability in the history of mankind that is the cause of millions of lost data records? We described in detail here how SQL injection may have helped with the PBS hack.

Tool #3: Cross Site Scripting

May 31 11:19:38 [redacted] XSS in billoreilly lol

Again, volumes on XSS. What more can we possibly write about the 2nd biggest vulnerability in the history of mankind that is the cause of millions of lost data records?

"Just goes to show you that LulzSec was not doing anything revolutionary," Impervia said.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more.