[WEB SECURITY] client-side "transaction monitoring" beacons

Simone Onofri simone.onofri at gmail.com
Tue May 27 16:51:27 EDT 2008


On Tue, May 27, 2008 at 8:28 PM, Arian J. Evans
<arian.evans at anachronic.com> wrote:
> This has been going on for + 10 years.
>
> A great example is a lot of open source portal or plugin-projects
> (like many of the PHP and Python photo-gallery software packages)
> suck in a clear gif or some other benign content. They often put
> this tag in an obscure header or footer, or include. Something
> that might not be easily flagged and refactored in casual
> review of source.
>
> This is so they can track who installs, uses, or in some cases
> steals their software.
>
> It's a pretty basic, and very old, tracking technique.

Thinking this there are more places to insert it:

- Server-side code (PHP with fopen, curl...)
- Client-side code (XHTML with img, script, JS or CSS)

also SWFs may contain remote calls

(there are others?)

If You're checking tracking systems take care for encoded code (in
particular server side or JS) and for client-side You may check it
using plugins like Firebug (Net tab) or Live HTTP headers.

Cheers,

Simone



>
> --
> --
> Arian J. Evans.
>
> I spend most of my money on motorcycles, mistresses, and martinis. The
> rest of it I squander.
>
>
>
> On Tue, May 27, 2008 at 5:49 AM, Licky Lindsay <noontar at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Anyone familiar with these things?
>>
>> The basic idea is to hide a zero-pixel image in the customer's website
>> with the src attribute pointing at the the security vendor's site.
>> This causes end-user's IP address and probably other info (as
>> collected by the javascript or passed on the URL by the customer site)
>> to be sent to the security vendor. There they can be logged analyzed
>> for odd behavior.
>>
>> One example of vendors selling these things is RSA.  There are others.
>>
>> Now, am I crazy, or is this emperor completely nude? This solution
>> trusts the *client* to send this info. All it takes it for the .. uhm,
>> "hacker" (it's hard to apply that term for such a trivial exercise) to
>> configure his browser to block images from domains other than the web
>> page currently being viewed, and voila he's invisible to the
>> "transaction monitoring". You don't even have to use any plugins or
>> proxies!
>>
>> To be fair to the vendors, I think these are sold as starter options,
>> quick ways to get something at all running, before moving up to more
>> serious forms of integration that involve direct server-to-server
>> calls. But to my mind that only makes it slightly better, if at all.
>>
>> Do people buy this stuff? Why?
>>
>
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-- 
Simone Onofri
http://www.siatec.net/

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