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In the first post of the hardening serie, I described how to scan a website with Nikto. Another scanner, which not only scans HTTP servers, but does FTP, SMB/CIFS, telnet, ssh, Oracle listener and operating systems too is Nessus. Let me say right away: Nessus was started as an open source effort, but has been made closed source some time ago. A fork of the open source version is called OpenVAS.

Nessus is free for personal and non-commercial use. This means you can download it and use it to look how it works. If you want to scan your corporate webserver or websites, or use it as a tool for doing consultancy, you must purchase a ‘ProfessionalFeed’.

Nessus is a very advanced scanner, with a repository of checks (called plugins), which is kept up-to-date by the company which provides nessus, called ‘Tenable Network Security’. The updates can be downloaded manually (via a script), but are updated automatically every 24 hours by default.

These are the plugin families (from the nessus website):

  • CGI abuses – This plugin family checks for anything that is ‘CGI’ related, unless it is XSS (and only a XSS vulnerability), in which case it falls into the “CGI abuses : XSS” family. These checks use a combination of detection techniques, including checking version of the application and testing for the actual vulnerability. The attacks include software detection, information disclosure, XSS, SQLi, LFI, RFI, overflows and more.
  • CGI abuses : XSS – Specific CGI checks for reflective and persistent XSS vulnerabilities in common web applications.
  • Database – Typically a web server will run a database that is used by various web applications.
  • FTP – Web pages need to be updated, and FTP is a popular protocol used to allow your web developers to send files to the server.
  • Gain a Shell Remotely – If you can obtain a shell on the remote web server, testing the application is somewhat moot.
  • Gain root remotely – Same thing as above, if you gain root, resolve this problem before the application is tested.
  • General – Contains the operating system fingerprinting plugins, including ones that will identify the OS over HTTP. Identifying the underlying operating system is very important for web application testing, as it will determine the syntax of commands sent via injection (command and SQL) attacks.
  • Remote file access- Includes checks for specific web server/application vulnerabilities that lead to remote file disclosure.
  • Service detection – Contains checks for several different services, including detecting Apache running HTTPS, HTTP CONNECT proxy settings and other services that may host web applications.
  • Web servers – Plugins in this family detect approximately 300 specific vulnerabilities in popular web servers, such as Apache, IIS and generic vulnerabilities associated with the HTTP protocol itself.

Also, operating system updates are checked if Nessus is able to log on (either by credentials specified or if it found a username/password combination from an internal list: for example username ‘oracle’ with password ‘oracle’ is tested).

With all these tests it’s still very important to note that nothing beats proper design and validation of applications. Nessus (and most vulnerability checking software I know) checks for known issues. Customizations and self build applications are probably not thoroughly checked for vulnerabilities. This means Nessus could easily lead to a false sense of safety.

The Oracle HTTP Server (OHS) is a version of the Apache HTTP daemon, modified by Oracle to work with it’s Application Server suite. The Application Server suite is called ‘Fusion Middleware’ with version 11. The OHS acts/can act as a frontend to application servers like OC4J and Weblogic. In my opinion an application server should always have an http server in front of it, to act as:
– Logger
– SSL offloader
– Firewall
In my opinion it would also be very good to let the OHS be a frontend for APEX.

The OHS is only a decent firewall if you made sure it can only do what you have intended it to do. Sadly, this isn’t the case by default. Whilst the most recent (11.1) version is quite safe (stripped of functionality), it only is because it’s better than its predecessors, which where quite ‘open’.

Hardening is essentially done the same way as firewalling is: disable everything (disable all functionality) and enable only the needed functionality as limited as possible.

A decent way of checking enabled functionality, is using Nikto 2. Nikto is a web server scanner.

Here is an example:

$ ./nikto.pl -host example.com
- Nikto v2.1.1
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
+ Target IP: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
+ Target Hostname: example.com
+ Target Port: 80
+ Start Time: 2010-05-26 10:33:35
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
+ Server: Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.2.0.2 Oracle-HTTP-Server OracleAS-Web-Cache-10g/10.1.2.0.2 (G;max-age=0+0;age=0;ecid=201564454590,0)
+ Uncommon header 'tcn' found, with contents: choice
+ ETag header found on server, inode: 3425418, size: 20042, mtime: 0x43e7685d;493cf3fe
+ Number of sections in the version string differ from those in the database, the server reports: oracle-application-server-10g/10.1.2.0.2oracle-http-serveroracleas-web-cache-10g/10.1.2.0.2(g;max-age=0+0;age=0;ecid=201564454590,0) while the database has: 10.1.3.1.0. This may cause false positives.
+ Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.2.0.2Oracle-HTTP-ServerOracleAS-Web-Cache-10g/10.1.2.0.2(G;max-age=0+0;age=0;ecid=201564454590,0) appears to be outdated (current is at least 10.1.3.1.0)
+ Allowed HTTP Methods: GET, HEAD, OPTIONS, TRACE, POST, PUT, DELETE, CONNECT, PATCH, PROPFIND, PROPPATCH, MKCOL, COPY, MOVE, LOCK, UNLOCK
+ OSVDB-397: HTTP method ('Allow' Header): 'PUT' method could allow clients to save files on the web server.
+ OSVDB-5646: HTTP method ('Allow' Header): 'DELETE' may allow clients to remove files on the web server.
+ HTTP method ('Allow' Header): 'CONNECT' may allow server to proxy client requests.
+ HTTP method ('Allow' Header): 'PROPFIND' may indicate DAV/WebDAV is installed. This may be used to get directory listings if indexing is allow but a default page exists.
+ HTTP method ('Allow' Header): 'PROPPATCH' indicates WebDAV is installed.
+ OSVDB-5647: HTTP method ('Allow' Header): 'MOVE' may allow clients to change file locations on the web server.
+ OSVDB-877: HTTP TRACE method is active, suggesting the host is vulnerable to XST
+ OSVDB-27487: Apache is vulnerable to XSS via the Expect header
+ OSVDB-700: /fcgi-bin/echo?foo=alert('Vulnerable'): Fast-CGI has two default CGI programs (echo.exe/echo2.exe) vulnerable to Cross Site Scripting (XSS). http://www.cert.org/advisories/CA-2000-02.html.
+ OSVDB-3954: /fcgi-bin/echo2?foo=alert('Vulnerable'): Fast-CGI has two default CGI programs (echo.exe/echo2.exe) vulnerable to Cross Site Scripting (XSS). http://www.cert.org/advisories/CA-2000-02.html.
+ OSVDB-561: /server-status: This reveals Apache information. Comment out appropriate line in httpd.conf or restrict access to allowed hosts.
+ OSVDB-3233: /index.html.de: Apache default foreign language file found. All default files should be removed from the web server as they may give an attacker additional system information.
+ OSVDB-3233: /index.html.en: Apache default foreign language file found. All default files should be removed from the web server as they may give an attacker additional system information.
+ OSVDB-3233: /index.html.es: Apache default foreign language file found. All default files should be removed from the web server as they may give an attacker additional system information.
+ OSVDB-3233: /index.html.fr: Apache default foreign language file found. All default files should be removed from the web server as they may give an attacker additional system information.
+ OSVDB-3233: /index.html.it: Apache default foreign language file found. All default files should be removed from the web server as they may give an attacker additional system information.
+ OSVDB-3092: /fcgi-bin/echo: The FastCGI echo program may reveal system info or lead to other attacks.
+ OSVDB-3092: /fcgi-bin/echo2: The FastCGI echo2 program may reveal system info or lead to other attacks.
+ OSVDB-3233: /j2ee/: j2ee directory found--possibly an Oracle app server directory.
+ OSVDB-3233: /icons/README: Apache default file found.
+ 3823 items checked: 25 item(s) reported on remote host
+ End Time: 2010-05-26 10:44:18 (643 seconds)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
+ 1 host(s) tested

There are all kinds of things to see here (some highlights):
-The server describes into detail what software is used. Not a problem on itself, but it gives very much information which can perfectly be used to attack the server, or which can be used to determine if the server is vulnerable:

+ Server: Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.2.0.2 Oracle-HTTP-Server OracleAS-Web-Cache-10g/10.1.2.0.2

-Nikto tells there are newer versions of the OHS:

+ Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.2.0.2Oracle-HTTP-ServerOracleAS-Web-Cache-10g/10.1.2.0.2(G;max-age=0+0;age=0;ecid=201564454590,0) appears to be outdated (current is at least 10.1.3.1.0)

-Nikto has determined this host is vulnerable to Cross Site Scripting (XSS):

+ OSVDB-27487: Apache is vulnerable to XSS via the Expect header

-Nikto found some files which gives away even more detailed information:

+ OSVDB-3092: /fcgi-bin/echo: The FastCGI echo program may reveal system info or lead to other attacks.

This is very much and detailed information about the configuration of this server.

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