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Whitehat Tutorial: Part 1: HTML Injection

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Image result for htmlSince HTML is the language used to define the structure of a web page, if an attacker
can inject HTML, they can essentially change what a browser renders. Sometimes this
could result in completely changing the look of a page or in other cases, creating forms
to trick users. For example, if you could inject HTML, you might be able to add a <form> tag
to the page, asking the user to re-enter their username and password. However, when
submitting this form, it actually sends the information to an attacker.


Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) injection is also sometimes referred to as virtual
. This is really an attack made possible by a site allowing a malicious user
to inject HTML into its web page(s) by not handling that user's input properly. In other
words, an HTML injection vulnerability is caused by receiving HTML, typically via some
form input, which is then rendered as is on the page. This is separate and distinct from
injecting Javascript, VBscript etc. 

So, when a character is URI encoded, it is converted into its byte value in the American 
Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) and preceded with a percent sign
(%). So, / becomes %2F, & becomes %26. As an aside, ASCII is a type of encoding which
was most common on the internet until UTF-8 came along, another encoding type.
Now, back to our example, if an attacker entered HTML like:

<h1>This is a test</h1>
Coinbase would actually render that as plain text, exactly as you see above. However, if
the user submitted URL encoded characters, like:
Coinbase would actually decode that string and render the corresponding letters, or:

This is a test

With this, the reporting hacker demonstrated how he could submit an HTML form with
username and password fields, which Coinbase would render. Had the hacker been
malicious, Coinbase could have rendered a form which submitted values back to a
malicious website to capture credentials (assuming people filled out and submitted the


When you're testing out a site, check to see how it handles different types of 
input, including plain text and encoded text. Be on the lookout for sites that are 
accepting URI encoded values like %2F and rendering their decoded values, in 
this case /. While we don't know what the hacker was thinking in this example, 
it's possible they tried to URI encode restricted characters and noticed that 
all characters.
A great URL Encoder is 

You'll notice using it that 
it will tell you unrestricted characters do not need encoding and give you the 
encoded string used on Coinbase.


  1. %3C%68%31%3E%54%68%69%73%20%69%73%20%61%20%74%65%73%74%3C%2F%68%31%3E


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