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In Depth Review: New NSA Documents Expose How Americans Can Be Spied on Without A Warrant

2013 Jun 21, 10:43

What It All Means: All Your Communications are Belong to U.S. In sum, if you use encryption they’ll keep your data forever. If you use Tor, they’ll keep your data for at least five years. If an American talks with someone outside the US, they’ll keep your data for five years. If you’re talking to your attorney, you don’t have any sense of privacy. And the NSA can hand over you information to the FBI for evidence of any crime, not just terrorism. All without a warrant or even a specific FISA order.

Not sure if this is saying all Tor data is collected or saying if someone uses Tor then start collecting that someone’s communication.

PermalinkCommentstechnical legal tor nsa eff spying security privacy

WinDbg .cmdtree file format reverse engineered | Debugging

2013 May 22, 3:34

Wrote some scripts that produce .cmdtree files. Nice to find this format definition.

PermalinkCommentsdebug windows windbg technical cmdtree

This might be the strangest release of classic Chicago label...

2013 May 17, 5:43

This might be the strangest release of classic Chicago label Trax yet! The clue’s in the title - it’s Daft Punk brassified. We get four classics by the world’s most famous Gallic robot duo: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” gets turned into a 1940s Dick Tracy-style riff-off with every form of trumpet imaginable, “Around The World” mixes wind instruments with that famous vocal mantra, “Da Funk” features plenty of sassy brass and “One More Time” wraps things up on a swingin’, jazzy high.

PermalinkCommentsSoundCloud Iamjasonalexander Brass Music music cover daft-punk

The Making of Pulp Fiction: Quentin Tarantino’s and the Cast’s Retelling | Vanity Fair

2013 Feb 28, 3:03

The first independent film to gross more than $200 million, Pulp Fiction was a shot of adrenaline to Hollywood’s heart, reviving John Travolta’s career, making stars of Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman, and turning Bob and Harvey Weinstein into giants. How did Quentin Tarantino, a high-school dropout and former video-store clerk, change the face of modern cinema? Mark Seal takes the director, his producers, and his cast back in time, to 1993.

PermalinkCommentsarticle movie film interview pulp-fiction

A Slower Speed of Light Official Trailer — MIT Game Lab (by...

2012 Nov 13, 7:41

A Slower Speed of Light Official Trailer — MIT Game Lab (by Steven Schirra)

“A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game in which players navigate a 3D space while picking up orbs that reduce the speed of light in increments. A custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics engine allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player’s own maximum walking speed. Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect; the searchlight effect; time dilation; Lorentz transformation; and the runtime effect.

A production of the MIT Game Lab.

Play now for Mac and PC!

PermalinkCommentsscience game video-game mit 3d light-speed

DSL modem hack used to infect millions with banking fraud malware | Ars Technica

2012 Oct 1, 6:33

According to the links within this article, although the root URI of the router requires authentication, the /password.cgi URI doesn’t and the resulting returned HTML contains (but does not display) the plaintext of the password, as well as an HTML FORM to modify the password that is exploitable by CSRF.

The attack… infected more than 4.5 million DSL modems… The CSRF (cross-site request forgery) vulnerability allowed attackers to use a simple script to steal passwords required to remotely log in to and control the devices. The attackers then configured the modems to use malicious domain name system servers that caused users trying to visit popular websites to instead connect to booby-trapped imposter sites.

PermalinkCommentstechnical security html router web dns csrf

Stripe CTF - Level 7

2012 Sep 13, 5:00

Level 7 of the Stripe CTF involved running a length extension attack on the level 7 server's custom crypto code.


def logs(id):
rows = get_logs(id)
return render_template('logs.html', logs=rows)


def verify_signature(user_id, sig, raw_params):
# get secret token for user_id
row = g.db.select_one('users', {'id': user_id})
except db.NotFound:
raise BadSignature('no such user_id')
secret = str(row['secret'])

h = hashlib.sha1()
h.update(secret + raw_params)
print 'computed signature', h.hexdigest(), 'for body', repr(raw_params)
if h.hexdigest() != sig:
raise BadSignature('signature does not match')
return True


The level 7 web app is a web API in which clients submit signed RESTful requests and some actions are restricted to particular clients. The goal is to view the response to one of the restricted actions. The first issue is that there is a logs path to display the previous requests for a user and although the logs path requires the client to be authenticatd, it doesn't restrict the logs you view to be for the user for which you are authenticated. So you can manually change the number in the '/logs/[#]' to '/logs/1' to view the logs for the user ID 1 who can make restricted requests. The level 7 web app can be exploited with replay attacks but you won't find in the logs any of the restricted requests we need to run for our goal. And we can't just modify the requests because they are signed.

However they are signed using their own custom signing code which can be exploited by a length extension attack. All Merkle–Damgård hash algorithms (which includes MD5, and SHA) have the property that if you hash data of the form (secret + data) where data is known and the length but not content of secret is known you can construct the hash for a new message (secret + data + padding + newdata) where newdata is whatever you like and padding is determined using newdata, data, and the length of secret. You can find a script on VNSecurity blog that will tell you the new hash and padding per the above. With that I produced my new restricted request based on another user's previous request. The original request was the following.

The new request with padding and my new content was the following.
My new data in the new request is able to overwrite the waffle parameter because their parser fills in a map without checking if the parameter existed previously.


Code review red flags included custom crypto looking code. However I am not a crypto expert and it was difficult for me to find the solution to this level.

PermalinkCommentshash internet length-extension security sha1 stripe-ctf technical web

Stripe CTF - XSS, CSRF (Levels 4 & 6)

2012 Sep 10, 4:43

Level 4 and level 6 of the Stripe CTF had solutions around XSS.

Level 4


> Registered Users 

  • <% @registered_users.each do |user| %>
    <% last_active = user[:last_active].strftime('%H:%M:%S UTC') %>
    <% if @trusts_me.include?(user[:username]) %>

  • <%= user[:username] %>
    (password: <%= user[:password] %>, last active <%= last_active %>)
  • Issue

    The level 4 web application lets you transfer karma to another user and in doing so you are also forced to expose your password to that user. The main user page displays a list of users who have transfered karma to you along with their password. The password is not HTML encoded so we can inject HTML into that user's browser. For instance, we could create an account with the following HTML as the password which will result in XSS with that HTML:

    This HTML runs script that uses jQuery to post to the transfer URI resulting in a transfer of karma from the attacked user to the attacker user, and also the attacked user's password.


    Code review red flags in this case included lack of encoding when using user controlled content to create HTML content, storing passwords in plain text in the database, and displaying passwords generally. By design the web app shows users passwords which is a very bad idea.

    Level 6



    def self.safe_insert(table, key_values)
    key_values.each do |key, value|
    # Just in case people try to exfiltrate
    # level07-password-holder's password
    if value.kind_of?(String) &&
    (value.include?('"') || value.include?("'"))
    raise "Value has unsafe characters"



    This web app does a much better job than the level 4 app with HTML injection. They use encoding whenever creating HTML using user controlled data, however they don't use encoding when injecting JSON data into script (see post_data initialization above). This JSON data is the last five most recent messages sent on the app so we get to inject script directly. However, the system also ensures that no strings we write contains single or double quotes so we can't get out of the string in the JSON data directly. As it turns out, HTML lets you jump out of a script block using no matter where you are in script. For instance, in the middle of a value in some JSON data we can jump out of script. But we still want to run script, so we can jump right back in. So the frame so far for the message we're going to post is the following:

PermalinkCommentscsrf encoding html internet javascript percent-encoding script security stripe-ctf technical web xss

Stripe CTF - SQL injections (Levels 0 & 3)

2012 Sep 5, 9:10

Stripe's web security CTF's level 0 and level 3 had SQL injection solutions described below.

Level 0


app.get('/*', function(req, res) {
var namespace = req.param('namespace');

if (namespace) {
var query = 'SELECT * FROM secrets WHERE key LIKE ? || ".%"';
db.all(query, namespace, function(err, secrets) {


There's no input validation on the namespace parameter and it is injected into the SQL query with no encoding applied. This means you can use the '%' character as the namespace which is the wildcard character matching all secrets.


Code review red flag was using strings to query the database. Additional levels made this harder to exploit by using an API with objects to construct a query rather than strings and by running a query that only returned a single row, only ran a single command, and didn't just dump out the results of the query to the caller.

Level 3


@app.route('/login', methods=['POST'])
def login():
username = flask.request.form.get('username')
password = flask.request.form.get('password')

if not username:
return "Must provide username\n"

if not password:
return "Must provide password\n"

conn = sqlite3.connect(os.path.join(data_dir, 'users.db'))
cursor = conn.cursor()

query = """SELECT id, password_hash, salt FROM users
WHERE username = '{0}' LIMIT 1""".format(username)

res = cursor.fetchone()
if not res:
return "There's no such user {0}!\n".format(username)
user_id, password_hash, salt = res

calculated_hash = hashlib.sha256(password + salt)
if calculated_hash.hexdigest() != password_hash:
return "That's not the password for {0}!\n".format(username)


There's little input validation on username before it is used to constrcut a SQL query. There's no encoding applied when constructing the SQL query string which is used to, given a username, produce the hashed password and the associated salt. Accordingly one can make username a part of a SQL query command which ensures the original select returns nothing and provide a new SELECT via a UNION that returns some literal values for the hash and salt. For instance the following in blue is the query template and the red is the username injected SQL code:

SELECT id, password_hash, salt FROM users WHERE username = 'doesntexist' UNION SELECT id, ('5e884898da28047151d0e56f8dc6292773603d0d6aabbdd62a11ef721d1542d8') AS password_hash, ('word') AS salt FROM users WHERE username = 'bob' LIMIT 1
In the above I've supplied my own salt and hash such that my salt (word) plus my password (pass) hashed produce the hash I provided above. Accordingly, by providing the above long and interesting looking username and password as 'pass' I can login as any user.


Code review red flag is again using strings to query the database. Although this level was made more difficult by using an API that returns only a single row and by using the execute method which only runs one command. I was forced to (as a SQL noob) learn the syntax of SELECT in order to figure out UNION and how to return my own literal values.

PermalinkCommentssecurity sql sql-injection technical web-security

Brainfuck beware: JavaScript is after you! | Patricio Palladino

2012 Aug 10, 10:18

“tl;dr I just made a tool to transform any javascript code into an equivalent sequence of ()[]{}!+ characters. You can try it here, or grab it from github or npm. Keep on reading if you want to know how it works.”

JavaScript has some crazy implicit casts.

PermalinkCommentstechnical humor programming javascript obfuscation

Everybody hates Firefox updates - Evil Brain Jono's Natural Log

2012 Jul 16, 1:59

Former FireFox developer on the switch to their continuous update cycle. 

Oh no, Chrome is doing such-and-such; we’d better do something equivalent or we’ll fall behind! We thought we needed a rapid update process like Chrome. We were jealous of their rapid update capability, which let them deploy improvements to users continuously. We had to “catch up” with Chrome’s updating capability.

Dealing with servicing on IE for years had led me to some of the same thoughts when I heard FireFox was switching to continuous updates.

PermalinkCommentsfirefox via:ericlaw web-browser technical web browser servicing update software

Indicating Details of Problems to Machines in HTTP

2012 Jul 3, 2:28

This specification defines a “Problem Detail” as an extensible way to carry machine-readable details of errors in a response, to avoid the need to invent new response formats.

PermalinkCommentstechnical http ietf standard

The "acct" URI Scheme

2012 Jun 30, 3:09

During formalization of the WebFinger protocol [I-D.jones-appsawg-webfinger], much discussion occurred regarding the appropriate URI scheme to include when specifying a user’s account as a web link [RFC5988].

acctURI      =  “acct:” userpart “@” domainpart

PermalinkCommentstechnical uri uri-scheme acct ietf

enochliew: Tetris Street Art by Gaffa gallery Located in Sydney...

2012 Jun 25, 2:40


Tetris Street Art by Gaffa gallery

Located in Sydney on Abercrombie Lane.

I’d get out of there before they form a horizontal line…

PermalinkCommentstetris street-art photos

HTTP Compression Documentation Reference

2012 Jun 13, 3:08
There's a lot of name reuse in HTTP compression so I've made the following to help myself keep it straight.
HTTP Content Coding Token gzip deflate compress
An encoding format produced by the file compression program "gzip" (GNU zip) The "zlib" format as described in RFC 1950. The encoding format produced by the common UNIX file compression program "compress".
Data Format GZIP file format ZLIB Compressed Data Format The compress program's file format
Compression Method Deflate compression method LZW
Deflate consists of LZ77 and Huffman coding

Compress doesn't seem to be supported by popular current browsers, possibly due to its past with patents.

Deflate isn't done correctly all the time. Some servers would send the deflate data format instead of the zlib data format and at least some versions of Internet Explorer expect deflate data format instead of zlib data format.

PermalinkCommentscompress compression deflate gzip http http-header technical zlib

Stuxnet Explained - Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran

2012 Jun 1, 4:57

From his first months in office, President Obamasecretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

PermalinkCommentssecurity politics iran nuclear virus

Play Fez

2012 May 7, 3:30

I'm done playing Fez. The style is atmospheric retro nastalgia and on the surface the gameplay is standard 2D platformer with one interesting Flatland style game mechanic but dig deeper to find Myst style puzzles. Despite the following I thoroughly enjoyed the game and would recommend it to anyone intrigued by the previous. Five eighths through the game I ran into one of the game's infamous Fez save game breaking issues, but I enjoyed the game enough that I started over before any patches were released and had no further issues.

While playing the game I created some tools to help keep track of my Fez notes (spoilers) including a Pixelated Image Creator that makes it easy to generate data URIs for large, black and white pixelated images, and (spoilers) a Fez Transliteration Tool to help me translate the in-game writing system.

PermalinkCommentsvideo-game fez game xbox

DVD Exclusive - Paul F. Tompkins - Full Encore Performance (by...

2012 Apr 25, 3:36

DVD Exclusive - Paul F. Tompkins - Full Encore Performance (by comedycentral)

PermalinkCommentshumor video stand-up paul-f-tompkins

Why Did This Work?

2012 Mar 23, 7:05

Do we have a word or phrase to describe the following situation: You code up something complicated and it compiles and works on the first try. You then spend the next ten minutes trying to figure out what's actually broken because it shouldn't be this easy.

Or in meme form:

PermalinkCommentstechnical humor programming futurama

How to collect JavaScript performance data for Windows Metro apps on a device that does not have Visual Studio installed

2012 Mar 16, 2:27

Documentation for the VS JS profiler for Win8 HTML Metro Apps on profiling apps running on remote machines. 

PermalinkCommentswin8 programming technical js vs
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