The internet can be a very unfriendly place, especially for older operating systems like Windows XP. In this post we will take a look at exploiting Windows XP browsers using BeEF, the Browser Exploitation Framework.
It has been a long time since I have done a post on BeEF, about three years in fact, but after going through a great Web Application and XSS security class, I figured it was time to brush it off again. I was very pleased to find that a ton of new features (called commands) have been added to BeEF since I last used it, dramatically increasing its functionality.
Granted a lot of the attacks in BeEF no longer work against Windows 7 with the latest browsers, but it seems that Windows XP systems are still very vulnerable to many of the browser attacks, even when using the latest browsers.
So let’s see what BeEF can do against a Windows XP system.
First we need to start the Exploitation Framework. In Kali, just open a terminal and type:
This starts the BeEF server and shows you the web address to open the graphical user interface and a couple sample pages that you can use to hook browsers:
Just surf to 127.0.0.1:3000/ui/panel to view the user interface and login with the username and password of ‘beef’:
You will now be greeted with the BeEF control panel:
Listed under the “Getting Started” section you will see links for two test pages that you can use to play with hooking browsers. I like the “Advanced version” as it looks like a real webpage.
On our XP system running the latest Firefox browser, if we surf to the “Malicious” demo page that BeEF creates, we will see this screen:
Or this if we are using Chrome:
The page shows some delicious looking beef, and nothing really seems awry. But what the user can’t tell, is that this particular webpage contained a hook. A malicious program that allows an attacker to hook the browser and, well, pretty much take over complete control of the browser.
As soon as the visitor simply visits the page, the hook is set. Notice that the user does not have to run anything or mouse over anything for the attack to work. Just visiting the page triggers the attack.
When machines are hooked, they show up in the BeEF control panel:
Now that we have the system listed in the control panel, we simply click on the system we want to attack and then pick from the numerous attacks listed in the commands section:
Using these commands we can grab information from the victim’s browser, or even change what they see. For example, if we want to try to Social Engineer them and grab their Facebook credentials we can go to the Social Engineering tab and click “Pretty Theft”. And then ‘Execute’.
On the victim’s browser a pop up will appear:
Oh no! My Facebook timed out!
If the user fills in their creds and hits Log in, this appears in the BeEF control panel:
Or we could try to grab credit card numbers with this Amazon looking attack:
BeEF can do much more than just send pop-ups. You can grab the HTML of the webpage that the victim is on:
And then change any links on the page in realtime, without the user ever knowing, to point to wherever you want the victim to go. Here is a look at the webpage source after changing all the links on the page to point to the Dallas Cowboys website:
Of course an attacker wouldn’t normally send them to a sports site, but most likely a website that was, say, a complete spoof of Amazon or Facebook.
As you can see, an attacker having control over the browser can be very bad.
The attacks are color coded as to the chance that they might work. But I did notice that some attacks that were marked red did in fact work, while some marked green did not.
I also noticed that newer browsers seemed to stop some of the attacks, but XP was still pretty open as to what would work against it.
I tried these attacks against a Windows 7 system and nothing was displayed:
A hook was created, but only lasted for about a second or two before it was dropped.
The best mitigation against this type of attack is to use the latest Windows OS and browser versions. If you can, update or replace your Windows XP systems, especially if they are used online. The base security in Windows 7 and 8 is much better than WinXP. Finally always run a script blocker like “NoScript”, and don’t click on or open links and attachments in unsolicited email and social media messages.