Blind Elephant: A New Web Application Fingerprinting Tool

Published: 2010-08-16
Last Updated: 2010-08-16 21:59:25 UTC
by Raul Siles (Version: 1)
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During Black Hat USA 2010, Patrick Thomas presented a new web application fingerprinting tool called Blind Elephant ( The tool uses the same techniques I've been using for a few years now, manually or through custom scripts, during web-app penetration tests to identify the available resources on the web application, and based on them, categorize its type and fingerprint its version. This methods apply particularly well to open-source web application and blogging frameworks, and CMS's, such as Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, phpBB, phpMyAdmin, etc, as you can check the resources available on the source code for a specific version, and compare them with the resources of the target web-app.

Patrick took this idea seriously and created a Python-based tool. He has precomputed the hashes of the known files and automated the process. You can get more details from the original Black Hat presentation, or the updated version (v2). The tool is very useful from two perspectives: defensive and offensive.

On the one hand (offensive), to incorporate the tool to your pen-tests activities in order to fingerprint more accurately the target environment. On average it takes less than 6.5 seconds to fingerprint the web-app, with an average precision of three candidate versions (and the bandwidth compsumption is also very low).

On the other hand (defensive), to collect global details about the current state of the web portion of the Internet. The presentation provides results about the web application versions available out there, as well as the version distribution and real update status for the major players. The goal was to answer the following question: "What % of (active) sites on the net are running a well-known webapp?". I would personally add "...a well-known VULNERABLE webapp?". The results of this global analysis are pretty scary but match what I commonly see on pen-tests. Just to provide you the insights of the phpMyAdmin vulnerability mentioned on a recent ISC diary (from the tool author):

Scanned on June 18, the % of net-visible phpMyAdmin installations unpatched against PMASA-2009-3/CVE-2009-1151: 60.75%
(52.2% are running a vulnerable version in the 2.x branch, 8.6% are running a vulnerable version in the 3.x branch)

Please, use this tool and its results to create awareness and force people to patch web infrastructures and applications, and help them to improve the update process! I know this is easier said than done, but if you are still running a vulnerable web application more than one year after the vulnerability was announced, you are asking for trouble.

The project is looking for contributors, so its an opportunity to make a difference and help to make the Internet a more secure place.

Raul Siles
Founder and Senior Security Analyst with Taddong

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