internet - Dave's Blog


Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria? - Microsoft Research

Aug 26, 3:53

Mass mailing Internet scams intentionally use poor spelling, grammar etc to filter down to target ignorant audience .

PermalinkCommentstechnical security statistics

MotherJones - Meet the people behind the Wayback Machine, one of...

Jun 1, 4:16

MotherJones - Meet the people behind the Wayback Machine, one of our favorite things about the internet

PermalinkCommentstechnical internet-archive

CodePlex - Virtual Router - Wifi Hot Spot for Windows 8, Windows 7 and 2008 R2

May 21, 2:30

The original open source Wifi Hotpot for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012!

Free open source software based router you can run on Windows to wirelessly share your Internet connection with other devices

PermalinkCommentstechnical tool wifi router free open-source windows

Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer...

Apr 28, 9:39

Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer games Space War! emulated in JavaScript in the browser.

This entry covers the historical context of Space War!, and instructions for working with our in-browser emulator. The system doesn’t require installed plugins (although a more powerful machine and recent browser version is suggested).

The JSMESS emulator (a conversion of the larger MESS project) also contains a real-time portrayal of the lights and switches of a Digital PDP-1, as well as links to documentation and manuals for this $800,000 (2014 dollars) minicomputer.

PermalinkCommentscomputer-game game video-game history internet-archive

FCC planning new Internet rules that will gut Net Neutrality. Get ready to pay more for the stuff you love online.

Apr 24, 3:29
PermalinkCommentstechnical net-neutrality fcc bullshit

theatlantic: Victorian Trolling: How Con Artists Spammed in a...

2013 Oct 29, 7:42


Victorian Trolling: How Con Artists Spammed in a Time Before Email

The main difference between 21st-century scams and those of centuries past is one of delivery method.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons/Benjamin Breen]

PermalinkCommentshistory spam technical humor internet

FitBit and WebOC Application Compatibility Errors

2013 Aug 29, 7:17
I just got a FitBit One from my wife. Unfortunately I had issues running their app on my Windows 8.1 Preview machine. But I recognized the errors as IE compatibility issues, for instance an IE dialog popup from the FitBit app telling me about an error in the app's JavaScript. Given my previous post on WebOC versioning you may guess what I tried next. I went into the registry and tried out different browser mode and document mode versions until I got the FitBit software running without error. Ultimately I found the following registry value to work well ('FitBit connect.exe' set to DWORD decimal 8888).
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

"Fitbit Connect.exe"=dword:000022b8

For those familiar with the Windows registry the above should be enough. For those not familiar, copy and paste the above into notepad, save as a file named "fitbit.reg", and then double click the reg file and say 'Yes' to the prompt. Hopefully in the final release of Windows 8.1 this won't be an issue.

Sci-fi short stories disguised as Internet docs

2013 May 29, 2:48
The recent short story Twitter API returning results that do not respect arrow of time by Tim May written as a Twitter bug report reminded me of a few other short sci-fi stories written in the style of some sort of Internet document:
PermalinkCommentscsc fiction sci-fi Scifi time-travel twitter

laughingsquid: New & Necessary Punctuation Marks

2013 Feb 25, 9:01


New & Necessary Punctuation Marks

PermalinkCommentshumor punctuation internet

Windows Remote Desktop via Internet

2012 Dec 7, 2:04
To setup my home Windows�dev box to be accessible from outside I followed two main steps:
Last time I had to do this there was a service named which seems to still exist but no longer appears to be free. Instead I used which is free and has a web API as well as links to and instructions for setting up native tools to dynamically update my IP address.

(via Comedy: Great Job, Internet!: Here’s Patton...

2012 Oct 31, 6:47

(via Comedy: Great Job, Internet!: Here’s Patton Oswalt’s Halloween costume)

PermalinkCommentsadam-savage patton-oswalt spider-man Halloween

New Deal With It

2012 Sep 17, 4:41


Thanks Internet. 

PermalinkCommentshumor president new-deal

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 - Level 5

2012 Sep 11, 5:00

Level 5 of the Stripe CTF revolved around a design issue in an OpenID like protocol.


    def authenticated?(body)
body =~ /[^\w]AUTHENTICATED[^\w]*$/


if authenticated?(body)
session[:auth_user] = username
session[:auth_host] = host
return "Remote server responded with: #{body}." \
" Authenticated as #{username}@#{host}!"


This level is an implementation of a federated identity protocol. You give it an endpoint URI and a username and password, it posts the username and password to the endpoint URI, and if the response is 'AUTHENTICATED' then access is allowed. It is easy to be authenticated on a server you control, but this level requires you to authenticate from the server running the level. This level only talks to stripe CTF servers so the first step is to upload a document to the level 2 server containing the text 'AUTHENTICATED' and we can now authenticate on a level 2 server. Notice that the level 5 server will dump out the content of the endpoint URI and that the regexp it uses to detect the text 'AUTHENTICATED' can match on that dump. Accordingly I uploaded an authenticated file to
Using that as my endpoint URI means authenticating as level 2. I can then choose the following endpoint URI to authenticate as level 5.
Navigating to that URI results in the level 5 server telling me I'm authenticated as level 2 and lists the text of the level 2 file 'AUTHENTICATED'. Feeding this back into the level 5 server as my endpoint URI means level 5 seeing 'AUTHENTICATED' coming back from a level 5 URI.


I didn't see any particular code review red flags, really the issue here is that the regular expression testing for 'AUTHENTICATED' is too permisive and the protocol itself doesn't do enough. The protocol requires only a set piece of common literal text to be returned which makes it easy for a server to accidentally fall into authenticating. Having the endpoint URI have to return variable text based on the input would make it much harder for a server to accidentally authenticate.

PermalinkCommentsinternet openid security 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 Web Security CTF Summary

2012 Aug 30, 5:00

I was the 546th person to complete Stripe's web security CTF and again had a ton of fun applying my theoretical knowledge of web security issues to the (semi-)real world. As I went through the levels I thought about what red flags jumped out at me (or should have) that I could apply to future code reviews:

Level Issue Code Review Red Flags
0 Simple SQL injection No encoding when constructing SQL command strings. Constructing SQL command strings instead of SQL API
1 extract($_GET); No input validation.
2 Arbitrary PHP execution No input validation. Allow file uploads. File permissions modification.
3 Advanced SQL injection Constructing SQL command strings instead of SQL API.
4 HTML injection, XSS and CSRF No encoding when constructing HTML. No CSRF counter measures. Passwords stored in plain text. Password displayed on site.
5 Pingback server doesn't need to opt-in n/a - By design protocol issue.
6 Script injection and XSS No encoding while constructing script. Deny list (of dangerous characters). Passwords stored in plain text. Password displayed on site.
7 Length extension attack Custom crypto code. Constructing SQL command string instead of SQL API.
8 Side channel attack Password handling code. Timing attack mitigation too clever.

More about each level in the future.

PermalinkCommentscode-review coding csrf html internet programming script security sql stripe technical web xss

Alexandria 2.0: One Millionaire's Quest to Build the Biggest Library on Earth | Threat Level |

2012 Aug 21, 7:00

Brief history and scope of the Internet Archive.

PermalinkCommentsinternet-archive history

I'm an American and I want to watch the Olympics. What do I do? (

2012 Jul 28, 12:05

One persons quest to watch the Olympics online.

The location requirements (guessed at via IP address) are irritating. The requirement that you have a particular cable subscription to view video online seems like not network neutrality.

Also this related article:

PermalinkCommentsolympics video internet web

(via Classic pro-science-careers music video PSA: Chemical...

2012 Jun 29, 10:03

(via Classic pro-science-careers music video PSA: Chemical Party)

Xeni says: “The EU wasn’t always so terrible at promoting science careers through funny internet music videos! (thanks, Guido)”

PermalinkCommentshumor chemistry video

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
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