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Learn how Comodo mod_security rules will protect your web servers against attack. Free!




Learn how Comodo mod security rules will protect your web servers against attackReading Time: 6 minutes

Learn how Comodo mod security rules will protect your web servers against attack


1. Introduction
2. Preparing the environment
3. Attack analysis and prevention
4. Conclusion

1) Introduction

Web applications are arguably the most important element of today’s online infrastructure. They are used to power many features which are critical to online business, including dynamic content, payment systems, web-mail, online stores, software-as-a-service, forums, social media and more.

Unfortunately, the importance of web-applications also makes them a prime target for attackers. A successful breach of an important web-application could lead to financial devastation, loss of intellectual property, compromised customer data or severe reputation damage. Strong, persistent protection for web-applications is therefore an important consideration for any business with an online presence.

This article shows how you can use mod_security rules and Comodo Web Application Firewall (CWAF) to quickly and easily set up powerful, real-time protection for your web-apps. We also test the system we have set up by illustrating how it protects against a number of well known attacks.

Download and install Comodo Web Application Firewall for free at

2) Preparing the environment

System requirements:

  • A Linux system with an internet connection. In our example we shall use CentOS 7.x;
  • 1Gb of free hard drive space;
  • 512Mb of free RAM;

We shall use Docker as the emulation environment, which gives us the ability to quickly configure our testing environment. Be aware that software contained in the image is vulnerable and MAY NOT BE USED for any production system.

Console commands to prepare the environment:

# yum install docker
# docker pull comodo63/b_centos_63
# docker run -p 8080:80 -it comodo63/b_centos_63 /bin/bash

The last command redirects host machine port 8080 to port 80 on the VM. If everything is OK, you’ll be inside the root shell in the docker image:


The image contains:

  • Vulnerable version of Centos v6.3
  • DVWA 1.0.7 (
  • WordPress 3.5 with vulnerable Slider Revolution plugin 4.1.4
  • Apache Web Server 2.2.15
  • PHP 5.3.3
  • MySQL 5.1.73
  • Python 2.7
  • ModSecurity 2.9.1
  • sqlmap
  • test scripts at /soft/

3) Attack analysis and prevention

Let’s look at how hackers work by showing examples of common attacks on web applications. We’ll look at some of the most notorious CVE exploits and some classic attacks.

We’ll show you how to recreate these attacks step-by-step, and how CWAF defends against them.

  • You’ll need to disable CWAF in advance if you wish to recreate the exploits. To do this, type the following command in the console:

# python /soft/ on

  • To re-enable ModSecurity with Comodo Web Application Firewall (CWAF) rules installed, type the following command in the console:

# python /soft/ off

Case A:

Vulnerability: Arbitrary File Download

Application: WordPress Slider Revolution plugin 4.1.4 (CVE-2014-9734)

In 2014, the SUCURI research team published an article, “RevSlider Vulnerability Leads To Massive WordPress SoakSoak Compromise”, which describes how to download an arbitrary file from a hosting server with the Slider Revolution plugin installed.

See CVE-2014-9734 at

Lets see how this vulnerability is used by hackers.


  • CWAF disabled

To reproduce the attack, we pre-installed WordpPress 3.5 and Revslider plugin 2.3.3. The default login credentials for WP admin panel are:

Username: admin
Password: admin

Figure 1. WordPress version

Common attack technique for this vulnerability described in the public exploit:

To demonstrate the vulnerability, enter this URL in a web browser on the host machine:

or use this console command:

# wget “” -O wp-config.php

This will open a wp-config.php file like this:

Figure 3. Downloaded configuration file

With this file, intruders can gain access to your database or WordPress admin panel. It’s a critical vulnerability.

Now try with Comodo Web Application Firewall running. With Comodo rules active, visiting the same URL leads to a 403: Forbidden message:

Figure 4. Blocked CVE-20114-9734 attack

You can also try the exploit using the console, and get the same 403 result:

# wget “” -O wp-config.php

–2017-04-05 11:09:06–
Connecting to… connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 403 Forbidden
2017-04-05 11:09:06 ERROR 403: Forbidden.

CWAF prevents intruders from accessing your web files using this vulnerability.

Vulnerability: Remote Code Execution
Application: GNU Bash through 4.3 / HTTPd (ShellShock, CVE-2014-6271)

See CVE-2014-6271 published at

Let’s check how this vulnerability is used by hackers.


  • CWAF disabled

Here is the text of test.cgi file from the HTTPd server:

echo “Content-type: text/plain”
echo “Hi”

Next, visit this URL in your host machine browser . You will see the message “Hi”. You can also fetch it via the console:

# wget “” -O out.txt && cat out.txt

This is expected behavior.

You can read more about this exploit here:

We will use a lightweight version of the exploit to reproduce the vulnerability. It accepts a URL to a buggy script as a parameter and requires a bash command to execute (let’s use: “cat /etc/passwd” for demo purposes). Type the following command in the docker’s container console:

# python /soft/github_exploit/

When you see “Enter bash command:”, type:

# cat /etc/passwd

…and you’ll be able to read the contents of the system password file.

Figure 5. Remote code execution on a ShellShock vulnerable system

Using this critical vulnerability, attackers can execute any shell commands and steal sensitive information.

Now, enable CWAF and try the exploit again. You’ll get a 403 response code (forbidden) as before:

Figure 6. Blocked ShellShock attack

CWAF successfully blocks ShellShock attack and prevents remote code execution vulnerability.

Vulnerability: reflected XSS
Application: Damn Vulnerable Web Application (DVWA)


  • CWAF disabled

Here are the steps to reproduce the vulnerability:

1. Login at on your host machine with the following credentials:

username: admin
password: password

2. Open the “DVWA Security” page and set it to “low”

3. Open the “XSS reflected” page

4. Enter this URL in your browser:

or in the console:

# wget “” -O out.txt && cat out.txt

The output will be as follows:

Figure 7. Reflected XSS in DVWA

Again, this kind of vulnerability can be abused by attacker to run exploits on your web application.

Enable CWAF and test this vulnerability again. Once more, CWAF forbids access to the resource:

Figure 8. CWAF protects against reflected XSS


Automated CVE and DVWA tests


  • CWAF disabled

Go to the directory /soft/ and you will see some python scripts: – WordPress Revslider plugin bug check – Shellshock bug in bash check – stored XSS bug in DVWA check – reflected XSS bug in DVWA check – RCE bug in DVWA check – SQLI bug in DVWA check with sqlmap tool – all checks together

To perform a single automated scan, start any script with the following command:

# python </path/name_of_the_script>

Or you can start all scans with the following command:

# python /soft/

The output is as follows:

Figure 9. Automated scan of unprotected system

Enable CWAF and run the automated tests again. All attacks are blocked, as illustrated in the following screenshot:

Figure 10. CWAF successfully protects server against various vulnerabilities

If you check your web server access log you’ll see multiple requests from automated tools to hack your website that were blocked by CWAF.

4) Conclusion

Comodo Mod Security rules and Web Application Firewall will implement strong, real-time protection on your web server against even the most sophisticated hacks and exploits. The best part? It’s 100% free. Comodo’s Mod Security are constantly updated to deliver consistent protection over time against threats as they emerge. To find out more and download, please visit

Online Security


Cyber Security

Three of the Major Threats to Application Security and How to Mitigate Them




With the increased dependency of our lives on the internet and mobile apps, application security is important, now more than ever. 

The importance of applications in our lives cannot be overemphasized. We depend on them for everything from dating to banking and from bookkeeping to private messaging. 

To give you an idea of just how essential applications are in our lives, 105 billion applications were downloaded in 2018. The number has increased by more than 25 percent over the last two years.

That means one thing, applications are here to stay for quite a bit of time. And if they do have to be a part of our life, they better be secure.

You cannot make anything secure unless you don’t know what exactly you are securing it against. For that matter, we’ll have a look at some of the common security threats applications are facing. Then we’ll see how they can be mitigated.

Major Application Security Threats 

There are more application threats than can be covered in any blog post of reasonable dimensions. We’ve picked the most common threats to give you an idea of what you need to steer clear of as a developer or a user.

Brute Force Hacking 

This is the most primitive and perhaps the rawest method of hacking into a secure environment. As the name suggests, these attacks rely on the use of force to break into an application. 

The way this is done is simple. A hacker programs a computer to try all possible combinations of letters, symbols, and numerals to guess a password. 

Definitely, that takes the computer quite a bit of time to crack the password but given enough time it can do that every single time. 

As of now, there are no active defenses to stop or prevent such an attack. There are some measures that can minimize the possibility. 

How to Avoid Brute Force Hacking?

There are two things that can secure an application against a brute force attack: 

  • The use of a strong password that has a long combination of letters, numbers, and symbols in it. 
  • Limiting the number of login attempts allowed from an IP address within a certain period of time.

Injection Hacking

Another common form of attacks on applications is injection attacks. The target of such attacks is mostly the web-based applications that run on data provided by the user. 

The way these attacks work is by “injecting” data into the application that compromises the security of the system from within.

The most common types of injection hacking attacks include cross-site scripting, code injection, and SQL injection attacks.

Cross-Site Scripting 

These are the attacks where the attackers inject malicious scripts into a trusted application. This causes the application to execute these scripts and behave in a way that exposes sensitive information about the users. 

Code Injection Attacks 

In these attacks, the hackers compromise the application by injecting malicious code into it. When executed, these codes can prevent the application from properly working.

SQL injection 

These attacks involve injecting the application with malicious SQL codes. This makes it possible for the hackers to remotely control the application and access the sensitive data in its databases.

How to Prevent Injection Hacking? 

Unlike brute force hacking, injection hacking can be prevented. Here are some precautionary measures that can secure applications against such attacks:

  • Enforce strict access criteria for getting into the app.
  • Put in place strong screening measures for all the data entered by the users into the app.

Malware Attacks 

Malware is probably the single largest threat not only to application security but to the computer systems as a whole.

This is mainly because of the sheer amount of new malware coming to the market every year. It is estimated that as many as 317 million new computer viruses and malware were created in 2018 alone.

The effects of malware differ from one to another but once they have infected an application they can: 

  • Allow the cybercriminals to make illegal backdoors into the application. 
  • Give unauthorized access to the application.
  • Result in massive data breaches and privacy compromise. 

How to Prevent Malware Attacks

As new malware is coming to the scene every day, there cannot be a singular solution to this problem. However, application security against malware can be improved by: 

  • Putting strong antivirus and firewalls in place.
  • Releasing security patches for the application as and when a new threat is revealed. 
  • Scanning the app for vulnerabilities and fixing them.

While all these measures are to secure applications against specific attacks, there are some things that need to be made a part of the app development process in order to make the apps safer.

Making the Development Environment Secure 

It goes without saying that it is of paramount importance for the developers to make the applications secure. However, just like it is very difficult to proofread what you have written, it is an ego-shattering thing to enforce application security measures. 

A recent study has shown that as much as 83% of developers globally release their apps without implementing proper security measures.

Here are some things that every developer needs to do to ensure application security: 

  • Applications must be developed in accordance with the security standards of the industry leaders and regulators. 
  • Updates and patches must regularly be released to cope with the ever-lurking threat of malware.
  • All the open-source components of the application must be regulated and made at par with the application security standards being followed.

However, it is not just up to the developers to ensure application security. Application users also need to play their part to make sure that the applications they use and the data they have are safe. The things that the users can do include:

  • The use of long and mixed passwords that are hard to guess even for a computer. 
  • Install a firewall on their devices.
  • Don’t download any application from an untrusted source.
  • Keep their credentials safe. 

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Cyber Security

Fintechs are ransomware targets. Here are 9 ways to prevent it.




Cybercriminals are clever, and they often target fintechs for two reasons. They know fintechs handle a lot of sensitive and financial information on a daily basis, and that they probably have the means to meet hackers’ demands and get back to business as usual.

Ransomware attacks are one of the most common fintech cybersecurity risks, and falling victim to one can be devastating — or disruptive at the very least. So, we asked the experts at ESET to explain how to prevent ransomware, and secure your business from the inside out.

Firstly, what is ransomware and how does it work?

With a ransomware attack, a cybercriminal hacks into their victim’s systems and essentially holds their data “hostage” until they pay a ransom. Since hackers know how valuable data is to a business, they tend to set ransoms in the thousands or even millions of dollars.

There are two types of attacks: crypto ransomware encrypts all the files, folders and hard drives on the infected computer, while locker ransomware locks users out of their devices. For cybercriminals, the goal is to get you to pay up so you can retrieve your files and mitigate any damage to your business.

What to do after a ransomware attack

Unfortunately, you don’t have too many options if you fall victim to a ransomware attack. You’ll need to decide to pay the ransom or not, and that involves weighing up how much your data is worth. Just keep in mind that giving in to a cybercriminal’s demands may encourage them to attack you again — and there’s no guarantee that your data will be restored.

Either way, it’s important to go into disaster recovery mode right away. Follow these steps for what to do if you get ransomware:

1. Alert your IT department. If your company has IT professionals or a Chief Information Security Officer, notify them about the attack. Hopefully, they’ll have a plan of actions for situations like these and be able to guide your team through these steps.

2. Trace the source of the attack. Most ransomware attacks have a countdown clock before all your files are deleted forever, so the sooner you find the source, the faster you can act. Typically, ransomware sneaks its way into your system through a malicious link or email attachment. The best-case scenario is the ransomware only attacks that one device, and the worst-case is it infects your entire system. Once you’ve found the culprit, ask the user if they’ve opened other suspicious emails or noticed anything weird about their computer.

3. Remove that device from your network. To stop the ransomware from spreading through your network, you’ll need to unplug the infected device.

4. Let your employees and clients know about the breach. While it’s important not to cause panic, you do need to be transparent. The truth is, most cyber breaches are the result of human error, so your employees need to know what happened and what’s expected of them. As for your clients or customers, contact them if you have proof their data has been compromised. In other words, avoid putting out a statement until you have all the information.

5. Invest in better security systems. When you’ve gotten through the aftermath, look into more sophisticated cybersecurity in fintech practices.

9 ways to prevent ransomware attacks

Ransomware is incredibly common, and as you now know, there are limited ways to deal with an attack. You need to be proactive and prepared, and implement measures to prevent an attack.

As you might have guessed, fintech cybersecurity should be a priority. These are our tips for how to protect against ransomware: 

Set up sophisticated email filters. The majority of ransomware is delivered by spam or phishing emails. To stop ransomware before it has a chance to infect your systems, employ email filters that scan all email content for spam, viruses and other forms of malware.

Run regular security audits. It’s worth assessing your security systems to identify any gaps or weaknesses. If you can, consider outsourcing your cybersecurity, reallocating resources or hiring in-house professionals to give your fintech peace of mind.

Use an up-to-date antivirus and anti-ransomware software. To protect your company devices from ransomware, malware, identity theft and more, install a third-party antivirus software designed for businesses. ESET Digital Security for Business offers the best ransomware protection and defence against a range of advanced cyber threats, and can be tailored to the size and scope of your fintech. Along with blocking persistent threats, it secures your devices with endpoint protection, which is especially handy if you have employees who work remotely.

Accept all software updates. Cybersecurity companies often release new patches to fix bugs and address vulnerabilities, which is why it’s essential to stay on top of any updates. In other words, you could have the most sophisticated antivirus ransomware software in the world, but that won’t do you any good if you ignore every notification that pops up! Updates usually take a few minutes to download and require you to restart your computer, but they make your company much less vulnerable to ransomware.

Implement multi-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is good, but multi-factor authentication is better. This means employees will need to enter their username, password and one more piece of additional information — usually a code sent to their phone or email — before they can log into the system. It also makes it harder for hackers to break in.

Create a whitelisting program. This is effective in preventing ransomware, and it involves restricting the applications that can run within your company’s system. Think of it as the opposite of blacklisting — only applications that have passed the approval process will work.

Encrypt your company files. Ideally, all of your data should be end-to-end encrypted, and access limited to the people who need that information to do their jobs. The good news is, most computers and phones have built-in operating systems that encrypt stored data and prevent unauthorised users.

Tighten your cloud security. Speaking of the cloud, some cloud services don’t offer secure encryption and can’t distinguish between authorised users and other people trying to access the cloud. ESET Cloud Office Security will configure your cloud security so hackers can’t bypass your company’s policies and tap into sensitive information.

Routinely back up your data and systems. By backing up your data regularly, you’ll be able to recover any lost or corrupted data if your server crashes or if you fall victim to a ransomware attack. We recommend always having two encrypted backups: one on the cloud, and one an external hard drive.

Get in touch with ESET today!

Ready to protect your business from the inside out? With ransomware, prevention is always better than cure, so head to ESET’s site to learn more about their top-rated cybersecurity systems.

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Cyber Security

What are Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR)?




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HackerOne empowers the world to build a safer internet.

Insecure Direct Object References (or IDOR) is a simple bug that packs a punch. When exploited, it can provide attackers with access to sensitive data or passwords or give them the ability to modify information. On HackerOne, over 200 are found and safely reported to customers every month. 

What is an IDOR?

There are several types of IDOR attacks, including:

  • Body Manipulation, in which attackers modify the value of a checkbox, radio buttons, APIs, and form fields to access information from other users with ease.
  • URL Tampering, in which the URL is modified at the client’s end by tweaking the parameters in the HTTP request. 
  • HTTP Requests in which IDOR vulnerabilities are typically found in GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE verbs.
  • Mass Assignment, where a record pattern can be abused to modify data that the user should not be able to access. While not always a result of IDOR vulnerabilities, there are many powerful examples of this being the result of it. 

In its simplest and most common form, an IDOR vulnerability arises when the only input required to access or replace content is from the user. This vulnerability submitted to Shopify by California-based hacker Rojan Rijal (a.k.a. @rijalrojan) in 2018 is the perfect example.

By observing how file attachments were labeled when sending a query to Shopify’s Exchange Marketplace application, Rojan was able to replace documents by leveraging the same file name from different accounts. 

Figure 1: IDOR vulnerability reported by @rijalrojan to Shopify on the HackerOne platform.

For retail and ecommerce companies, IDOR vulnerabilities represent 15% of what organizations pay bounties for and represent the top vulnerability for programs across government (18%), medical technology (36%), and professional services (31%) industries. 

If they’re so simple, why are they so common? 

In short, IDORs can not be detected by tools alone. 

IDORs require creativity and manual security testing to identify them. They require you to understand the business context of the target application. While some scanners might detect activity, it takes a human eye to analyze, evaluate, and interpret. Understanding the deeper context is an innately human skill that machines cannot replicate. In traditional pentests, unless a pentester tests every possible parameter in every request endpoint, these vulnerabilities can go undetected. 

What are the implications of an IDOR vulnerability? 

Perhaps the most infamous IDOR vulnerability as of late is that found in alt-tech social media platform Parler. The company ordered their posts by number in the URL, a telltale sign of IDOR. If you add a sequential digit to a Parler post URL, you could access the next post on the platform indefinitely. Without authentication or access limits, an attacker could easily build a program to download every post, photo, video, and data from the entire site. While this was just public posts (not necessarily IDs used to verify accounts), geolocation data from posts was also downloaded, which could reveal GPS coordinates of users’ homes.  

How can you prevent IDORs from cropping up?

“Avoiding IDOR is only possible by building a robust access control mechanism, choosing the best fit methodology for your scenario, log all access and if possible do an audit with a post authorization check,” said HackerOne hacker Manoel Abreu Netto, better known online as @manoelt.

“However, if you want to reduce the impact of an IDOR, avoid using a simple pattern to reference objects in the backend, thus not using a sequential integer value but something like uuid or even a MAC (hashed ID) with a salt per user session.

This does not eliminate the IDOR, but reduces the overall impact and the ability to enumerate objects.”

To remediate IDOR vulnerabilities, below are a few best practices. 

  1. Developers should avoid displaying private object references such as keys or file names.
  2. Validation of parameters should be properly implemented.
  3. Verification of all the referenced objects should be checked.
  4. Tokens should be generated in such a way that it can only be mapped to the user and is not public.
  5. Ensure that queries are scoped to the owner of the resource. 
  6. Avoid things like using UUIDs (Universally unique identifier) over Sequential IDs as UUIDs often let IDOR vulnerabilities go undetected.

For more information about reducing risk and getting started with hacker-powered security, check out our CISOs Guide to Deriving Value from Hacker-Powered Security.


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Cyber Security

80% of Global Enterprises Report Firmware Cyberattacks




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