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Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2012 17:23:34 -0500 (EST)
From: "Steven M. Christey" <>
cc: Henri Salo <>,
Subject: XSS hiding CSRF (was: Re: Mibew messenger multiple

Funny, the CVE team was discussing this curiosity just today.

In the Mibew case, the PoC code has POST forms that invoke scripts like 
"/operator/ban.php"  and "/operator/settings.php".  These are almost 
certainly administrative functions that probably shouldn't be reachable at 
all.  Thus, these might be better identified as CSRF issues at their core, 
instead of XSS.

It seems that some researchers report XSS in administrator modules, but 
they omit when you need to use CSRF in order to get the administrator to 
perform the XSS.  So, the primary issue is often CSRF, and XSS is only 
resultant (since, in many cases, the admin already has privileges to edit 
HTML).  The vuln DBs are starting to catch up with this "trend" in vuln 
reporting, so there is a very slow shift towards identifying CSRF as the 
core problem.  However, CSRF is in the eye of the beholder, in that you 
often need to know the INTENDED functionality of the application before 
you can interpret whether things are CSRF versus regular functionality, 
versus good old XSS.

Note that this kind of XSS-hiding-CSRF issue is not necessarily tied to 
admin functionality, but that's where it's a strong indicator that a 
researcher might be ignoring CSRF.

Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to determine whether XSS or CSRF is 
at the root, even if you're dealing with admin functionality.  For 
example, maybe an admin program will check for CSRF and fail, but include 
the original form in its error response, possibly enabling XSS.  Or, maybe 
there are TWO issues at play - maybe a victim can be CSRF'ed to make posts 
on their behalf, and also a secondary issue where the victim can become an 
attacker and XSS other people (with or without CSRF).

Unfortunately, I strongly suspect that the number of XSS-hiding-CSRF 
reports will grow :-(

For people who investigate vuln reports closely, please keep this trend in 
mind.  If you are a researcher, consider whether XSS or other issues are 
really legitimate functionality that is only reachable by targeting the 
victim with CSRF; if that's the case, then the CSRF is "primary" and the 
XSS is "resultant" and not a separate vulnerability - and if your targeted 
application has CSRF, then maybe there's a more powerful impact than just 
XSS.  (For example, depending on how settings / configuration is 
implemented, you might be able to get code execution out of it.)

- Steve

On Wed, 1 Feb 2012, Kurt Seifried wrote:

> On 01/31/2012 08:22 AM, Henri Salo wrote:
>> This seems to need 2012 CVE-identifier.
>> Advisory:
>> Codseq own advisory:
>> Secunia:
>> At the moment does not work for me.
>> - Henri Salo
> Please use CVE-2012-0829 for this issue.
> P.S. for some reason OSVDB lists this as a CSRF issue (?) which is
> mentioned in the advisory but not really shown.
> -- 
> Kurt Seifried Red Hat Security Response Team (SRT)

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