Comparing Application Attacks

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Are you familiar with various types of application attacks? If you’re planning to take the Security+ exam, you should have a basic understanding of several common types of attacks launched against systems and networks.

For example, can you answer this question?

Q. An attacker recently attacked a web server hosted by your company. After investigation, security professionals determined that the attacker used a previously unknown application exploit. Which of the following BEST identifies this attack?

A. Buffer overflow

B. Zero-day attack

C. Fuzzing

D. Session hijacking

More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? The answer and explanation is available at the end of this post.

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Zero-Day Attacks

A zero-day attack is one that exploits an undocumented vulnerability. Many times, the vendor isn’t aware of the issue. At some point, the vendor learns of the vulnerability and begins to write and test a patch to eliminate it. However, until the vendor releases the patch, the vulnerability is still a zero-day vulnerability.

As an example, a bug existed in the virtual DOS machine (VDM) that shipped with every version of 32-bit Windows systems from 1993 to 2010. The bug allowed attackers to escalate their privileges to full system level, effectively allowing them to take over the system. Google researcher Tavis Ormandy stated that he reported the bug to Microsoft in mid-2009. At this point, Microsoft (the vendor) knew about the bug, but didn’t release a work-around until January 2010 and a patch until February 2010. Because the bug wasn’t known publicly until January 2010, it remained a zero-day vulnerability until then.

Both attackers and security experts are constantly looking for zero-day vulnerabilities. Attackers want to learn about them so that they can exploit them. Most security experts want to know about them so that they can help ensure that vendors patch them before causing damage to users.

Remember this

Zero-day exploits are undocumented and unknown to the public. The vendor might know about it, but has not yet released a patch to address it.

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Session Hijacking Attacks

When a user logs on to a web site, the web site often returns a cookie with a session ID. In many cases, this cookie is stored on the user’s system and remains active until the user logs off. If the user closes the session and returns to the web site, the web site reads the cookie and automatically logs the user on. This is convenient for the user, but can be exploited by an attacker.

In a session hijacking attack, the attacker learns the user’s session ID and uses it to impersonate the user. The web server doesn’t know the difference between the original user and the attacker because it is only identifying the user based on the session ID.

Attackers can read cookies installed on systems through several methods, including cross-site scripting attacks and Flash cookies (described in the next section). Once they have the session ID, they can use header manipulation to hijack the session.

Comparing Application Attacks

Flash Cookies and LSOs

A Flash cookie is one created by Adobe Flash Player and is different from a traditional text cookie. They are also known as local shared objects (LSOs) or locally shared objects. As one example, Flash cookies are stored in multiple locations by default, and traditional methods of deleting cookies through a web browser do not delete Flash cookies. Some Flash cookies store the session ID from traditional cookies. If a user deletes the traditional cookies, the Flash cookies re-create them.

Many sites use Flash cookies to track users’ online activity without their knowledge or consent. For example, when a user goes to a web site using a Flash cookie, then goes to web site B, the Flash cookie records their activity on web site B. This continues for the entire session as the Flash cookie tracks and records all of the user’s activity. Their usage has prompted many class-action lawsuits against sites using Flash cookies.

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  • Introduction
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  • 100 question pre-assessment exam
  • Mastering Security Basics (full content from Chapter 1 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Exploring Control Types and Methods (full content from Chapter 2 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Basic Network Security (full content from Chapter 3 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Securing Your Network (full content from Chapter 4 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Securing Hosts and Data (full content from Chapter 5 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Malware and Social Engineering (full content from Chapter 6 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Identifying Advanced Attacks (full content from Chapter 7 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Managing Risk (full content from Chapter 8 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
  • Preparing for Business Continuity (full content from Chapter 9 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 20 practice test questions)
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  • 100 question post-assessment exam
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34 Simulated Performance-based Questions

Eight sets of performance-based questions with multiple questions in each set. These questions help you understand and prepare for performance based questions.

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Arbitrary Code Execution/Remote Code Execution

Arbitrary code execution refers to the ability of an attacker to execute commands or run programs on a target system. Remote code execution refers to the ability of an attacker to execute the code from a remote system. Neither of these is desirable because it allows attackers to install and run malware on vulnerable systems.

As an example, imagine an application such as a web browser has a vulnerability that allows execution of code using one of these methods. An unsuspecting user can visit a malicious web site with specially crafted code to exploit this vulnerability. This code can use elevated privileges to cause the system to download a malicious file and then execute it to install it. Once installed, the malware can allow the attacker to take control of the computer whenever desired.

Software bugs are the most common reason that arbitrary code execution and remote code execution is possible. This is another reason why it is important to keep systems up to date with current patches.


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 SYO-401 Practice Test Questions Now Available


INCLUDES QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU PREPARE

FOR THE NEW PERFORMANCE BASED QUESTIONS 

Bonus - Performance Based Questions

Additional Security+ questions to help you prepare for the new performance based questions. These are included with the full bank of Security+ practice test questions and are divided into different sections. For example, you'll have access to the following links:

- Performance Based Question - Set 1

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of security to mobile devices and servers in a data center. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

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You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 3

You'll see a graphic showing a network with computers and servers separated by a firewall. The firewall is used to control traffic between the computers and users using rules within an access control list (ACL).  You'll have three questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly identify the relevant components of the rule. The incorrect answers and explanation provide you with insight into how to correctly answer this type of question on the actual exam.

- Performance Based Question - Set 4

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam related to what a forensic analyst would do during an investigation. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 5

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match protocols and ports. You'll then have seven questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 6

You'll see a list of security controls along with a graphic showing devices and locations within an organization, along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the controls with the devices and locations. You'll then have four questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 7

You'll see a list of authentication methods and authentication factors along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the authentication methods with the authentication factors. You'll then have six questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This set also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 8

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This is similar to Set 2 but expands on the possibilities. The set also includes a link to a page showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 9

New questions recently added using a different testing engine. See a demo here. This set includes drag and drop and matching questions on ports.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 10

A random set of 20 performance-based questions using drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in-the blank. This set includes performance-based questions on RAID.

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Get the full bank of Security+ Practice Test Questions

Q. An attacker recently attacked a web server hosted by your company. After investigation, security professionals determined that the attacker used a previously unknown application exploit. Which of the following BEST identifies this attack?

A. Buffer overflow

B. Zero-day attack

C. Fuzzing

D. Session hijacking

Answer is B. A zero-day attack takes advantage of an undocumented exploit or an exploit that is unknown to the public.

A buffer overflow attack sends unexpected data to a system to access system memory or cause it to crash. Although some buffer overflow attacks are unknown, others are known. If the server isn’t kept up to date with patches, it can be attacked with a known buffer overflow attack.

Fuzzing sends random data to a system and can detect buffer overflows and zero-day attack methods, but the scenario doesn’t indicate the user is sending random data.

Session hijacking takes over a user’s session and isn’t related to an attack on a server.

See Chapter 7 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide for more information on common attacks.

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