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Authentication Bypass Vulnerability: What is it and how to stay protected?

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  • Organizations failing to enforce strong access policy and authentication controls could allow an attacker to bypass authentication.
  • Attackers could also bypass the authentication mechanism by stealing the valid session IDs or cookies.

Authentication bypass vulnerability could allow attackers to perform various malicious operations by bypassing the device authentication mechanism.

What's the issue - Authentication bypass exploit is mainly due to a weak authentication mechanism.

Organizations failing to enforce strong access policy and authentication controls could allow an attacker to bypass authentication.

  • Many default applications and servers come with unsecured default folders.
  • Administrators fail to secure folders and servers with strong password protection.
  • Device users fail to reset the default passwords.
  • Sometimes, a protected application will include unprotected files. For instance, the application’s main folder will be secure, but other folders will be open without any protection.
  • Likewise, protected sites might include folders that lack authentication.
  • Most developers fail to test their systems prior to release thus leaving data open to attack.

Attackers look for unprotected files, gains access to those unsecured files, gathers information and then attempt to attack protected applications by bypassing the authentication system.

Worth noting

Most websites use scripts and back-end databases to enforce authentication. Moreover, web-form-based authentication is executed in the client-side web browser scripts or through parameters posted through the web browser. It just takes the attacker to manipulate the values contained in the Web forms or in the parameters to bypass authentication.

Attackers could also bypass the authentication mechanism by stealing the valid session IDs or cookies.

Examples of ‘Authentication Bypass Vulnerability’

Example 1 - Researchers detected a critical vulnerability in the SHAREit app that could allow attackers to bypass Android device authentication. However, to exploit this vulnerability, the exact path of the target file is required.

Researchers noted two distinct database files related to SHAREit app that might be useful for exploitation,

  • SHAREit History Database
  • SHAREit MediaStore Database

The SHAREit MediaStore database contains file information such as file name, type, size, path, and more other information.

Example 2 - Researchers discovered a WhatsApp-iOS vulnerability that could allow attackers to access users’ WhatsApp chats by bypassing the Face ID or Touch ID security mechanism.

The vulnerability resides in the iOS sharing sheet and in order to bypass the security mechanism, attackers must share something via the iOS sharing sheet and then tap on the WhatsApp icon.

How to stay protected

  • In order to stay protected from authentication bypass attack, it is best to keep all your systems, applications, software and OS up-to-date.
  • It is recommended to patch all vulnerabilities and install a good antivirus program.
  • It is best to have a secure and strong authentication policy in place.
  • It is best to ensure all systems, folders, apps, are password protected.
  • Security experts recommend resetting default passwords with unique strong passwords and periodically rotate passwords.
  • It is suggested to not expose authentication protocol in the client-side web browser script.
  • They suggest ensuring that user session IDs and cookies are encrypted.
  • It is recommended to validate all user input on the server side.
  • It further recommended sending all cookies and session data over an encrypted channel.
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