Business cases of the projects we completed
We were approached by a company that was planning to enter the promising cryptocurrency market. To accomplish this goal, the company has developed a web application with the functionality of cryptocurrency exchange. Before publishing the application to the Internet, the company decided to perform an information security audit for it, using penetration testing methods according to the OWASP methodology. They requested such service from us.
The testing was conducted in the “black box” mode: at the initial stage, the auditors had at their disposal only the URL of the application under test.
In the course of the Pentest, the following actions that could be committed by attackers were identified and confirmed:
- Take advantage of the lack of input filtering in the ‘meeting room’ functionality and conduct an XSS attack on a user or administrator. This was successfully confirmed when the dialog was opened by the test victim (the user or the administrator to whom the message was transmitted). The script functionality can be anything. For example, hidden mining, a fake form of authentication, etc., up to complete control over the victim's computer.
- Take advantage of the flaws in the file upload functionality in the web application and access the server file system (ability to read, upload, delete files), execute arbitrary commands on the server, execute SQL queries, make connections from the server interface to other systems, i.e. the attacker gains complete control over the server and the data can be completely compromised.
- After gaining control over the server, take advantage of the drawbacks of cryptographic protection. In particular, the lack of control over the integrity of transaction data in the application, and make changes to the account balance.
- Bypass the check when sending messages and impersonate another user or administrator, thus mislead the victim and commit fraudulent actions.
- Identify registered users.
- Attack user passwords.
- Receive unauthorized access to files that other users have downloaded.
The customer received an exhaustive report on vulnerabilities and how to fix them. After the elimination of vulnerabilities, the auditors verified the elimination of deficiencies discovered earlier. And only after this web application was published on the Internet.
Thus, the audit using penetration testing methods saved the customer from possible reputational and financial losses.
A nationwide pharmacy network ordered an external pentest of their computer network. Black box mode was chosen.
During the project, it was discovered that all critical IT infrastructure was behind the firewall. It seemed, there were no chances to penetrate. Then we decided to check points of sales, and checked several drugstores. One of them had a Mikrotik router with default password. This type of routers has blank default passwords, so the router was "compromised". It had OpenVPN, locally stored certificates, and allowed sniffing. We intercepted traffic and found confidential information of the sales and accounting system. Then we extracted certificates from the compromised router, made a fake point of sale, and connected to the VPN server. We impersonated ourselves as an ordinary drugstore. This way we penetrated the internal IT infrastructure of the customer that was protected by the firewall and seemed impenetrable. We explored the Active Directory network, found SQL server with domain authentication and penetrated it using a password that had been extracted by mimikatz utility before.
The project was completed with the conclusion that the penetration is possible, and the customer's information security level is low. The customer received risk assessment results, information about the vulnerabilities, and recommendations how to remediate them and harden the IT infrastructure.
A mid-sized telecommunication company motivated to comply with external security requirements requested implementation of the complex information security system and overall security assessment. The customer chose grey box and white box as the penetration testing modes. Target object of the pentest were external servers, DMZ, web applications, and internal nodes of the local area network. During the project, the following vulnerabilities and drawbacks were discovered:
- Network configuration errors, lack of segmentation (lack of separate VLAN for management interfaces iLO, IMPI, IP KVM, etc.).
- Weak passwords in active network devices.
- Hidden resources were accessible (ADMIN$, C$, D$, etc.).
As a result of vulnerability exploitation, the documents containing confidential data were extracted. Thus, unauthorized access by an intruder was emulated. The customer received a comprehensive report about the vulnerabilities and their remediation methods.
A big industrial plant with about 10,000 employees needed an assessment of IT infrastructure compliance with security requirements. The plant ordered the penetration test in grey box and white box modes. Local area network servers were chosen as the pentest target objects. During the project, the following vulnerabilities and weaknesses were found:
- Drawbacks in the event monitoring and security incident response processes (lack of measures to prevent intrusions, and recover from incidents).
- Drawbacks in configuration management (uncontrolled test and guest network hosts in the corporate domain).
- Drawbacks of access and privilege management (open login via ssh for the standard root account; single administrator account for DC, network equipment, and user workstation management).
- Other technical vulnerabilities (proxy auto-detection for software is enabled).
An unauthorized access of insiders was modelled during the project. The customer received the full report on vulnerabilities and how to eliminate them.
A medium-sized retailer implemented internal and external information security requirements. Some of them required complete analysis of the enterprise infrastructure, including penetration tests in the "grey box" and "white box" modes. During the pentest, the following vulnerabilities and weaknesses were found:
- Vulnerabilities in the web applications (no request validity checks in the applications, data transfer through unencrypted HTTP channel).
- Privilege management drawbacks (domain accounts for various services and applications had too high privileges).
- The possibility of e-mail forgery (no DKIM / DMARC signature systems on mail servers).
- Drawbacks in monitoring processes of security events (no "auditd" customization for events).
- The possibility of unauthorized device connection to the network (DHCP snooping, no port security).
During the pentest, as a demonstration of vulnerability, an unauthorized access to the network equipment was emulated. The customer received the full report on the vulnerabilities and the ways to eliminate them.
A small financial organization connected to the international payment systems Visa and Mastercard faced with the need to comply with the PCI DSS standard requirements. Among them, there is the requirement to perform an external and internal penetration test regularly. During the analysis of the infrastructure scope (cardholder data environment) the detailed parameters of the external pentest were agreed with the customer. The parameters included grey box and black box modes, and the list of target objects, namely, the Internet-facing services and Web applications.
As a result of the pentest, multiple vulnerabilities in the web applications were discovered (PHP injections, cross-site scripting, direct object references, missing software update mechanisms, insecure default Web server configurations, no access control on the functional level, buffer overflows, error in the web application code).
During the project, no real ways of penetration were found, but potential ways were present. The customer received a comprehensive report on the vulnerabilities and how to enhance security of the infrastructure. The report was made in accordance with the requirements of PCI DSS, including the description of the penetration test methodology, which was used during the project.
(Company names are under Non-disclosure Agreements)
Our happy customers
Our clients are product and outsourcing IT companies, e-commerce, industrial, pharmaceutical, telecommunication, retail, and insurance companies, as well as banks and governmental organizations. Some of our happy customers are:
The H-X team has conducted a detailed project planning to assess the security of our infrastructure. They have showed a creative approach, and have properly implemented the security assessment plan. The security assessment has provided valuable information on priorities of security enhancements for our company, including strategic objectives and tactical activities.
We were facing serious challenges related to our customers' requirements for formal compliance with international and industry information security standards. The H-X team very quickly helped us to evaluate and fill the current organizational and technical gaps, and they continue to help.
The H-X team have completed a technical security assessment of one of our products, and we've been surprised by the high quality of the results. They've helped to improve the quality of our development and testing processes.