Product review: Core Impact penetration tester goes phishing
With Version 7.5, the tried-and-true attack toolkit becomes easier to use, leverages the fallibility of users to gain access to host systems, and adds security checks for Web-based databasesFollow @infoworld
There's one shortcoming we spotted in this feature: Once a client Trojan is in place, it tries to connect to Core Impact only once; if Impact isn’t available when the exploit is first executed, the potential compromise is lost. We'd like to see a timer added to the exploit to allow it to continue trying (every 10 minutes, every hour, once a day) if it doesn't connect the first time. Additionally, we'd like to see Impact itself able to run on a server as a service, especially since an e-mail with a Trojan payload may not be opened for several days. Having Impact available to receive the call at any time would make this feature much more effective.
Among the UI improvements in Impact 7.5 is the separation of the attack wizards and reports for human vulnerabilities from those for network holes. You can now get a report on your least savvy users independently from the missing patches on your networked devices, and you can view the two attack domains separately in the dashboard. With the new dashboard, you can easily sift through thousands of unique entry points into the network and their vulnerabilities, and drill down to the smallest client detail.
Reports on testing activity, hosts, end users, and their vulnerabilities are a snap to generate, and they deliver the relevant information needed in an aesthetically pleasing form that executives will appreciate, though an interface that allowed different users to get different views according to their areas of responsibility would be a welcome improvement.
Also noteworthy in the 7.5 upgrade are two new Web application checking techniques. The first exposes vulnerabilities in Web apps that allow for SQL injection attacks. This tool removes all the heavy lifting involved in exploiting databases with Web front ends, and it should help open the eyes of security-obtuse Web programmers.
Although Core Impact doesn't provide fuzzing-level analysis of application security, it does a very thorough job of looking for proprietary SQL injection bugs, checking whether your database server is vulnerable to these types of attacks. Impact also provides information on other SQL databases linked to your database, identifying these potential targets.
In our testing, Impact was able to correctly fingerprint our (unsecured) ASP application and its Microsoft SQL Server back end, and it enabled us to successfully extract protected information from the database. Impact was even able to deploy an agent to our database server through SQL injection.
The second major new addition to Impact's arsenal of exploits is the checking for RFI (Remote File Inclusion) on PHP applications. If you're not familiar with this type of exploit, it occurs when an attacker passes his own custom PHP code to the Web server, along with a request to execute the code. Many PHP designers have unwittingly written code that easily allows this type of attack to work. In the test lab, Impact was able to give us a shell window after a successful RFI attack on our PHP site. We could install and run any PHP code on the server we wanted. Impact even allows you to take screen captures from the compromised host.