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Dec 11, 2018 - 5 minute read - Comments - Burp Writeup

Tiredful API - Part 1 - Burp Session Validation with Macros

Tiredful API is an intentionally vulnerable REST API. I am going to use it to practice a bunch of Burp tricks.

In this part, I want to show how to use Burp macros to detect invalid session and add a custom bearer token header to the requests.

I used the instructions to spin up a docker container and used it with the free Burp Community Edition 1.7.36.

Session Validation Using Macros

Often times the session times out in the middle of testing or scanning. I only use Burp's scanner on individual requests but session can still time out. Sometimes the application log users out after sending funny payloads. Burp allows you to detect invalidated sessions and run a macro (which is a series of requests) to update the session automagically.

Usually, the session is maintained by cookies and Burp's cookie jar can be automatically updated to refresh the session. In the case of this API, we are using a Bearer token. But this method can be used for any custom header containing a token.

Login Request

The login request is simple. While this example has only one request, the process for multiple-step requests is similar. The application has two registered users. We are using batman:Batman@123.

Successful login request Successful login request

The access_token must be added to every authenticated request like Authorization : Bearer [token].

Invalid Session Response

We also need to detect invalidate sessions. To do so, navigate to to see the response.

Invalid request Invalid request

We are going to use the header 401 Unauthorized to detect invalid requests.

Login Macro

We should create a login macro to login as batman. This macro will be executed when Burp detects an invalid/expired session.

  1. Go to Project Options > Sessions and scroll down to Macros.
  2. Select Add to create a new macro. Macros are created from existing requests.
  3. Select a successful login request (for multi-step logins, select all steps in the login flow) and press Ok. Selecting the login request in macro recorder Selecting the login request in macro recorder
  4. Select a name and press Ok in Macro Editor to create the macro. If the request had specific parameters (e.g. a CSRF token), we could designate it in Configure item. This example does not need it. Finish macro recording Finish macro recording

Session Validation

We need to make Burp perform two action:

  1. Create a session handling rule. Burp should run the macro whenever a session is invalid.
  2. Add the access_token as a custom header to that request and resend it.

Add Custom Header Extension

In order to accomplish number two, we need to use an extension. Burp vanilla does not support adding headers to requests in session validation rules. However, cookies and normal GET/POST parameters (e.g. form-urlencoded ) can be updated.

  1. Install the Add Custom Header extension at https://github.com/lorenzog/burpAddCustomHeader. It's also available in the Burp App Store.
  2. Navigate to the Add Custom Header tab. It's pre-populated with some sane defaults.
  3. The original regex is access_token":"(.*?)". The underline does not show up in the input field but you can click on Update Preview to see it.
  4. We need to change the regex. Our response is a bit different. Ours has an extra space after access_token":. Our regex will be access_token": "(.*?)" instead. Add Custom Header setup Add Custom Header setup

Session Handling Rule

  1. In the same screen (Project Options > Sessions) click Add under Session Handling Rules.
  2. Type in a rule description. E.g., session-validation.
  3. Under Rule Actions click Add and select Check session is valid. Session validation rule - 1 Session validation rule - 1
  4. In the next screen, select Issue current request under Make request(s) to validate session. This tells Burp to modify the same request with the new header and resend it.
  5. Under Inspect response to determine session validity, select HTTP headers and enter 401 Unauthorized in the Look for expression field. This section determines how Burp detects invalid sessions. We are telling Burp that the session is invalid if 401 Unauthorized appears in the response header.
  6. Keep the rest of the options. We want exact match and case-insensitive.
  7. Match indicates must be set to invalid session. We are telling Burp how to detect invalid sessions after all. Session validation rule - 2 Session validation rule - 2
  8. Under Define behavior dependent on session validity check If session is invalid, perform the action below, check Run a macro and select the login macro.
  9. Uncheck both Update current request boxes (doesn't matter in this example, we are not using cookies or parameters).
  10. And finally, check After running the macro, invoke a Burp extension action handler: and select Add Custom Header. Response of the last request in the macro is passed to Add Custom Header. The extension extract sthe token using the regex (remember the match group) and adds it as a header to the request. Session validation rule - 3 Session validation rule - 3
  11. Press Ok and we're back at the first screen. Now we need to select the scope.
  12. Click the scope tab and select any tool that needs this rule under Tools Scope. We will go with the default.
  13. Under URL Scope select Use suite scope. We will set it later. Setting scope Setting scope

Alternate Session Handling Rule

Instead of detecting the session, we can use an easier rule and run the macro and add the header to every request. I went with the more complicated process because I wanted to practice setting it up.

  1. The alternate rule is the same in every aspect, except the Rule Actions which is Add (button) > Run a Macro.
  2. Select the macro.
  3. Uncheck both update checkboxes.
  4. Enable After running the macro and select Add Custom Header. Alternate rule Alternate rule

Setting the Scope

In this example, we do not have to set the scope. But usually, we want to only operate in a specific scope. In my VM, the address is so I added it in Target > Scope tab. I also excluded the login and logout API endpoints.

Scope Scope

Burp in Action

Now it's time to see the fruit of our labor. Right click the request to in Burp history and send it to Repeater. Click Send and see the header added to the request and get a valid response. It's empty but it's valid.

Burp in Action Burp in Action

Tune in for the next section, where I talk about using Burp's sitemap comparison.