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    Response Processors: Request Captcha Processor: Incident - Multiple Captcha Replays

    Complexity: Low (2.0)

    Default Response: 1x = Warn User, 2x = 1 Day Clear Inputs

    Cause: A captcha is a special technique used to differentiate between human users, and automated scripts. This is done through a Turing test, where the user is required to visually identify characters in a jumbled image and transcribe them into an input. If the user is unable to complete the challenge in a reasonable amount of time, they are not allowed to proceed with their original request. Because it is nearly impossible to script the deciphering of the image, automated scripts generally get stuck and cannot proceed. Additionally, an audio version is optionally available to allow users who have a visual handicap to complete the captcha successfully. Captchas are used in two different ways by the system. They can be explicitly added to any workflow within the protected web application (such as requiring a captcha to login, or checkout a shopping cart), and they can be used to test a suspicious user before allowing them to continue using the site (similar to blocking the user, but with a way for the user to unblock themselves if they can prove they are not an automated script). Captchas are generally used to resolve "Insufficient Anti-Automation" weaknesses in the protected web application. Regardless of which type of captcha is being used, this incident is generated when the user attempts to submit a captcha solution multiple times and "replay" is explicitly disabled for the captcha being used.

    Behavior: Because captcha's prevent automation, attackers will sometimes try and find ways to abuse the technique used to request the captcha in order to exploit the site. For example, if the attacker can find a way to submit the same solution over and over again, they might be able to solve the captcha once and still automate the resulting workflow. This is sometimes considered legitimate behavior (as would be expected if the user refreshed the browser after submitting a successful captcha), however in many cases, such functionality would make the captcha significantly less effective at preventing automation. In this case, the attacker resubmitted a request that had already been successfully validated through a captcha, and "replay" was explicitly disabled for the captcha. This is not necessarily a malicious incident on its own, because the user can have accidentally refreshed the browser, however multiple attempts would definitely represent malicious intent. An example of where a captcha's "replay" could cause a problem is on a gaming site, where the user is adding fake "money" to their account. In order to add the fake money, they must solve the captcha. This workflow is protected with a captcha, because if a user could automate the process, they would be able to add unlimited funds to their account. If an attacker were able to solve the captcha once, and continuously resubmit the resulting request, they could effectively add funds over and over again without resolving a new captcha. This would then allow for automation. Replay attackers are less of a problem if the web application being protected already has a method of preventing the same request from being submitted accidentally multiple times. Such would be the case if the web application maintained state information for the given session, and recorded the operation after it was successful, then used that state information to prevent a future occurrence of the operation.

    Published: 2015-02-04