Archive for the ABE Category

Senior NoScript community contributor Grumpy Old Lady finally sent me a link to these notes, taken live at BlackHat USA during Graig Heffner's "How to Hack Millions of Routers" talk, and to the tool he released, allowing to remotely control the many models of routers found vulnerable to a specific kind of DNS Rebinding attack.

Since I couldn't attend the L.A. conference, I've been anxiously in search of something like that to confirm al_9x's speculative forecast, i.e. that the exploited vulnerability was about routers exposing their administrative interface to the LAN on their WAN IP (even if remote administration is explicitly disabled), and now I'm delighted to find he was entirely correct!

Of course I must be happy, because I don't need to rush out another ABE feature like the WAN IP protection which I baked inside NoScript 2.0 last week, and because my own home router had been vulnerable as well :)

Some clarifications are still needed, though.

Among the mitigations reportedly enumerated by Heffner (even if he had previously claimed that NoScript couldn't help), there's

Use NoScript (disable javascript?) Maybe not practical to most users

Now, it is true that Heffner's attack fails if the attacker's domain, bound on the fly to user's WAN IP, is not allowed to run JavaScript (very likely, when you use NoScript). This means that most users of older NoScript versions (1.10 and below) were already protected against Heffner's tool and this kind of "XSS via DNS Rebinding".

However, like for many other "emerging threats", NoScript provides a specific protection against this class of vulnerabilities (in this case via its ABE module), completely independent from script blocking: in other words, it just works, no matter if you decide to keep JavaScript, plugins and frames enabled everywhere ("Allow Scripts Globally"). There'no reasonable excuse to renounce this protection, since it does not imply the alleged "non-practicality" of enabling JavaScript selectively.

So, since security experts themselves sometimes seem confused about NoScript's real "convenience vs security" tradeoffs, taking for granted that all the security it offers depends on and requires script blocking, recapping here a (non exhaustive) list of attacks blocked by NoScript even in "Allow Scripts Globally" mode may be useful:

  1. XSS, thanks to its "Injection Checker", the first anti-XSS filter ever released in a web browser.
  2. Clickjacking -- NoScript's ClearClick feature is still the only effective protection entirely implemented inside the browser and requiring no server-side cooperation.
  3. CSRF (and especially, by default, cross-zone attacks against intranet resources) via the ABE module.
  4. MITM, courtesy of HSTS and other HTTPS-enhancing features

These are just some of the many additional protections provided by NoScript which do not depend on scripting being disabled. So next time you hear people saying "yes, browsing with NoScript is safer but having to pick trusted sites to run JavaScript is a pain", point them to these good reasons for running NoScript, even if they give up the extra security provided by plain old script blocking.

Web-based router hacking is hardly a new topic, but new variants pop up from time to time.

The most obvious attacks against a router which malicious web sites can pull are CSRF, XSS and DNS Rebinding. Of course changing the default password of your router helps mitigating these threats a lot, but unfortunately it's not enough if you happen to be already logged in the administrative console, or if your device is affected by any of the commonplace holes which are left open by an unsafe development attitude, on the flawed assumption that just because a vulnerable service is not exposed on the internet side it can't be reached by an internet attacker (see this HNAP D-Link Hack for a glaring example).

NoScript's ABE module has been protecting routers and intranet web resources against this kind of attacks for a long time, thanks to the following built-in SYSTEM rule:

# Prevent Internet sites from requesting LAN resources.
Accept from LOCAL

However security researcher Craig Heffner, interviewed by Andy Greenberg on his "The Firewall" Forbes blog, recently announced a new DNS Rebinding variant which can be used to remotely control your router and (the scary part) allegedly bypasses the defenses provided by NoScript against this class of attacks.

Even though the details are still to be presented -- together with an automated attack tool! -- at the BlackHat USA 2010 conference (today or tomorrow), al_9x, one of the most active members of the NoScript community, provided a very convincing speculative assessment of the new threat, based on the sparse data found in this briefing summary, and also a simple and clever suggestion for a remedy:

Many routers will respond to requests to their public ip on the private interface. This allows an external site not merely to load the router config in an iframe by ip (without triggerring ABE LOCAL rule) but also by the site's name (by dynamically dns binding it to the router's public ip), thereby bypassing same origin check and gaining access to the router.

I suppose NoScript could (optionally) lookup the public ip and include it in the abe LOCAL pseudo-list.

And so it does now :)

Since version 2.0rc5, released past week, NoScript detects your public (WAN) IP by sending a completely anonymous query on a secure channel to, then treats it as a local address when enforcing its policies against CSRF and DNS Rebinding.

There are a few optimizations, meant to reduce the traffic to less than two hundreds of bytes per user per day (and prevent my servers from melting down), but if you do notice this background request, now you know what it is about (it is also mentioned in the NoScript's Privacy Policy, BTW). This new feature, enabled by default, can be disabled at any time by clearing the NoScript Options|Advanced|ABE|WAN IP ∈ LOCAL checkbox *.

Now, let's just hope al_9x's guess is correct.
I'm quite confident it is, but if it's not, expect a brand new ABE protection feature in a week or so, anyway :)


Looks like al_9x was entirely correct, indeed :)

* Note for network administrators

This feature tries to be nice: device fingerprinting can be turned off by sending a "X-ABE-Fingerprint: Off" HTTP header, and fingerprinting requests are identified by a "Mozilla/5.0 (ABE," User-Agent header. Furthermore, custom local subnets or IPs can be configured as a space-separated list in the noscript.abe.localExtras about:config preference.

Interesting idea by Samy (yes, that Samy):

Here is a proof of concept in what I'm calling NAT Pinning ("hacking gibsons" was already taken). The idea is an attacker lures a victim to a web page. The web page forces the user's router or firewall, unbeknownst to them, to port forward any port number back to the user's machine. If the user had FTP/ssh/etc open but it was blocked from the router, it can now be forwarded for anyone to access (read: attack) from the outside world. No XSS or CSRF required.

In short, he exploits a smart mechanism in modern network equipment, which graciously and "magically" NATs on the fly arbitrary ports when certain handshake patterns are detected in outbound traffic, allowing (usually older) protocols which require a "call back" connection (like FTP, IRC or SIP) to work properly.

Good news is that ABE can prevent exploitation without hampering the useful functionality. If you're concerned about this issue, you just need to open NoScript Options|Advanced|ABE and edit the "USER" ruleset, adding the following rule:

# NAT Pinning blockage (blocks outbound HTTP traffic to unlikely ports)
Site ^https?://[^/]+:[0-35-7]

Bad news is that Java, Flash, Silverlight and maybe other plugins can open raw sockets bypassing any browser control, including ABE. Just another reason to keep them at bay.

Thanks to Thoughtcrime for bringing this to my attention, and to Samy for the chat we had this afternoon.

Seven months ago Andy Steingruebl, PayPal's Secure Development Manager, contacted me to know whether a future NoScript version could support server-side activation of its HTTPS-enforcing features, preferably with a more robust approach than the cookie-based one seen in the original Barth & Jackson's "ForceHTTPS" proof-of-concept. Such a potential development had obvious positive implications for e-commerce businesses and secure websites in general, hardening them against session hijacking attacks. I proposed a X-Force-HTTPS response header, to be ignored if coming through an insecure connection, otherwise switching on or off the "HTTPS-only" policy for the sending host. A dedicated persistence mechanism on the client side, immune from any accidental or malicious override, was meant to overcome the obvious intrinsic limits of cookies. The discussion seemed to die there, though.

Three months later, on May the 1st 2009, Steingruebl sent me another email, introducing Jeff Hodges, a PayPal security researcher who was preparing a specification draft for a refined "X-Force-HTTPS" header, renamed as X-Force-TLS. They were hoping to get a reference implementation in NoScript, and I would have really liked to help, but the timing could not be worse: I was already working around the clock for the first ABE public release, due on May the 25th, and as if that wasn't enough, just some hours earlier the Adblock Plus "scandal" had exploded all over the Internet, taking away the peace of mind required to sustain NoScript's traditionally allegro development rhythm. So, after releasing ABE, I spent my summertime focusing on its user-driven stabilization, and the X-Force-TLS sub-project went in the fridge. In the meanwhile an experimental implementation had been provided by Sid Stamm as a standalone extension for Firefox. Sid is a Mozilla guy who's very active on CSP as well, so this might be seen an encouraging hint to future support in the core browser.

However one week ago the security staff of a (quite easy to guess) leader Asian e-commerce player, which has been closely following the development of NoScript's "WebAppSec-oriented" features such as ABE, ClearClick and Anti-XSS Injection Checker, asked me whether I could estimate a date for implementing a server-side switch mechanism for HTTPS enforcement, just like the one discussed earlier with PayPal. They were eager to deploy this kind of protection as soon as possible, even in October, as part of a client security campaign involving a "Safest with Firefox + NoScript" recommendation. Therefore I decided to unfreeze my own X-Force-TLS implementation and, after a quick assessment, I committed to inclusion in NoScript, scheduled for release this week. As an incredible coincidence, on day later I noticed a message from Jeff Hodges on the WHATWG mailing list, announcing the Strict Transport Security draft, a more formal and public "X-Force-TLS" header proposal, renamed again as Strict-Transport-Security and about to be implemented in the not-too-distant future by Chrome, too. So I immediately forwarded the exciting news to the interested Asian party and made the necessary HTTP header renaming in my code for NoScript, announcing its impending release.

And here we are, with NoScript providing the first public Strict-Transport-Security user agent implementation. If you're in charge of a secure web site, please refer to the aforementioned specification to increase the reliability of your SSL deployment. If you're a NoScript user, just keep relying on it as always, knowing that your online transactions are going to become safer during the incoming months, as adoption among secure web properties grows. And if you're a power user and you prefer not to wait for them, don't forget that NoScript can already force any website to use secure connections only, at your whim.

Many people use their hosts file for resources blocking purposes, especially against ads or known malicious sites.

Since your hosts file takes precedence over your DNS in domain name resolution, you can redirect undesired domain to invalid IP addresses, saving both bandwidth and CPU because resolved IPs are cached.

Unluckily, most information sources about this useful technique, including the Wikipedia article above, instruct the reader to use (the local loopback IP) as the dead-end destination, rather than a truly invalid address such as This is not very smart, especially if you installed a web server on the loopback interface (like many web developers do), because you're spamming it with dummy requests whenever you browse an ad-laden web site.

Furthermore, I'm currently receiving several reports about ABE warnings popping up everywhere. If you read my post about ABE yesterday, you know that it ships with a built in "SYSTEM" ruleset containing just one rule which alone implements the whole LocalRodeo functionality:

# Prevent Internet sites from requesting LAN resources. Site LOCAL Accept from LOCAL Deny

Such a rule blocks any HTTP request for resources placed in your local network, including localhost ( and any other LAN IP, unless it is originated from your local network as well. This protects your internal servers and devices (e.g. routers and firewalls exposing web interfaces) against CSRF and XSS attacks performed from the internet.

As a side effect, though, if you're redirecting arbitrary hosts to, you'll get bombed by a storm of ABE warnings whenever those sites are linked from external web sites. The solution is simple: just open your host file and replace


everywhere it's used to block something, but being careful to keep

on the


entry and other really local domains, if any.


NoScript beta automatically suppresses notifications for the commonest case covered here (HTTP requests for a domain name resolving to on the default port), and also introduces an option to disable all ABE notifications.

Bad Behavior has blocked 927 access attempts in the last 7 days.