Advanced XSS methods and how to prevent – part 2

At part 1, i’ve introduced about 2 methods of XSS, they’re Parameter TamperingCross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF).

In this part, i will show you 2 more mthods of XSS: Path Traversal, Remote File Inclusion, SQL Injection

1. Path Traversal

Assume there’s a script to print the contents of a file to the browser

  • Located at /var/www/scripts/showfile.php

  • Encrypted password file located at:
    • /etc/shadow
  • Attacker can print the contents of the password file:

– showfile.php?file=../../../etc/shadow
– This assumes that Apache has permission to read shadow in the first place.


This can be prevented by setting the correct permissions for your files

– /etc/shadow can only be read by root, not Apache

Server configuration settings also allow you to prevent files from being accessed over the Web
– .htaccess: in the directory to be protected
– httpd.conf: Apache configuration settings

Could use str_replace to remove “/” and “\”

2. Remote File Inclusion

Consider include.php?file=foo
– include($_GET[‘file’] . “.php”);
– Includes foo.php inside the document
– include(“”);
– We need the “?” so the filename doesn’t become “42.php.php”
Solution: Don’t pass anything directly into include(), exec(), system(), etc, ever.

3. SQL Injection

Consider the following in insecure.php:

– $id = $_GET[‘id’];
– $q = “SELECT * FROM table WHERE id=’$id’ “;
– $result = mysql_query($q);

$id isn’t escaped, so we can set $id to a value that starts a new query

– End the old query early, and start a new query
– Comment out the rest of the old query
Example: Dropping a table

insecure.php?id=‘; DROP TABLE users;–
– “SELECT * FROM table WHERE id=’DROP TABLE users;–
”; Ends the original query. We can start a new one
DROP TABLE users; Execute a new query.
–‘; Comment out the leftover from the original.

Example: Bypassing a login:

In the password field: ‘OR 1=1;–‘

“SELECT * FROM users WHERE uname=’$user’ AND pass=’$pass’;

- "SELECT * FROM users WHERE uname='$user' AND pass='' OR 1=1;--'

=> While the (uname AND pass) conditions will fail, 1=1 will always succeed!
We’ve already discussed a solution: escape all of the special characters in strings before using them

Solution: Use mysql_real_escape_string($str) for this!

4. References

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