The Coalfire Blog

Welcome to the Coalfire Blog, a resource covering the most important issues in IT security and compliance. You'll also find information on Coalfire's insights into the unique cybersecurity issues that impact the industries we serve, including Cloud Service Providers, RetailFinancial Services, Healthcare, Higher Education, Payments, Government, Restaurants, and Utilities.

The Coalfire blog is written by the company's leadership team and our highly-credentialed security assessment experts. We look forward to your comments, so please join the conversation.


  • Microsoft Word Document Upload to Stored XSS: A Case Study

    May 09, 2018, Esteban Rodriguez, Consultant, Coalfire Labs, Coalfire

    Anytime I see a file upload form during an application test, my attention is piqued. In a best-case scenario, I can upload a reverse shell in a scripting language available on the webserver. If the application is running in PHP or ASP for example, it becomes quite easy. If I can’t get a backdoor uploaded, I will attempt to try to upload an HTML page to get my own client-side javascript uploaded for XSS attacks.

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  • Cooking Up Shells with Chef

    April 30, 2018, Ryan Wendel, Consultant, Coalfire Labs

    I was able to compromise a Chef server on one of my recent engagements. Owning a Chef server means having the keys to the castle. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about using this tool. I’m familiar with Puppet as I’ve spent the majority of my career on the systems side. Having never run into Chef, I needed to put a little time into figuring out the fastest way to use a Chef infrastructure to shell a bunch of sensitive hosts. Here is how I went about it.

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  • Sleuthing the Cloud: The Challenges of Forensics in Cloud Environments

    April 04, 2018, Robert Meekins, Director, Forensics, Coalfire

    More and more companies are embracing Cloud computing for the practicality, efficiency, and economy of outsourcing the housing, maintenance, and monitoring of applications and their associated infrastructure to a third-party provider. As the Cloud becomes more the norm than the exception, there is no lack of choices: Providers such as Amazon (AWS), Microsoft, IBM, and countless others are providing a variety of solutions, from e-commerce sites that process payments and credit cards, to developmental networks used to test and configure operational assets.

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  • A Good Shell Is Hard to Choose

    March 26, 2018, Killian Ditch, Senior Consultant, Labs

    I had the recent opportunity to speak at BSides SLC, held on the Sandy campus of Salt Lake Community College. I tailored my presentation to the student demographic and chose to talk about one of the fundamental concepts that a penetration tester must understand: types of shells. I touched on the differences between simple shell interaction and a full-featured terminal and then launched into a discussion focusing on web shells. Following the theory conversation, I demonstrated how control over a server could be established by exploiting a file inclusion vulnerability and default credentials to deploy two different web shells, each adapted for the particular platform.

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  • On Padding Oracle Attacks

    March 22, 2018, John Stickle, Security Consultant, Coalfire

    Poodle is a vulnerability found in late 2014, and it is still occasionally seen during penetration tests. The vulnerability allows an attacker with a man-in-the-middle position to downgrade a secure connection between a client and a server to the vulnerable SSLv3. After the connection is downgraded, the attacker can proceed to perform the padding oracle attack, recover known plaintext, and decrypt the ciphertext.

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