Saturday, September 15, 2018

Prevent a DOS via user lockouts at NetScaler Gateway

Before we begin let me first say… All NetScaler Gateway landing page customizations are unsupported. Changing the NetScaler Gateway landing page will cause you to have an unsupported environment. I do not condone malicious attempts to lockout user accounts. The purpose of this article is to highlight a current risk and mitigation steps. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way. Let’s start with the customizations :-). The current recommended configuration for two-factor authentication at NetScaler is available here. With the configuration highlighted in the article above. Web based users that authenticate are hitting AD first. Ideally, we would want to follow the authentication workflow that is configured for the Native Receiver. The Native Receiver evaluates RADIUS first, and if this is successful, then the LDAP policy is invoked. What is the risk of leaving the configuration exactly how the article has outlined the configuration? If Bob, a malicious user, knows Alice’s username, then Bob could enter a bogus password 3 times and lock Alice’s account. Bob could do this as often as he liked until some measure went into place to stop Bob. If Bob knew a lot of usernames and had some knowledge of scripting tools such as JMeter, then he could lockout a large number of user accounts effectively acting as a DOS. This would be bad, and I again, I would not condone such an attack.  So what can we do to mitigate such a risk? The quick and easy way to do it is to reverse the web authentication policies so that they match up with the Native Receiver (RADIUS as primary, LDAP as secondary). However, this will force users to enter their RADIUS passcode before entering their AD username. Most organizations want to have the dynamic pin as the 2nd password for users to enter. So how can we mitigate the risk AND have the dynamic token as the second password users need to enter? Like in the quick and easy method, we would need to make the RADIUS authentication primary and the LDAP authentication secondary. Now we need to customize some JavaScript on the NetScaler. The file /vpn/login.js is what we need to customize. This file can be found under“/netscaler/ns_gui/vpn/login.js”. What we will do is change the ordering of the POST values. The JavaScript below has the original values in red that we will change.
function ns_showpwd_default() { var pwc = ns_getcookie(“pwcount”); document.write(‘’ + _(“Password”)); if ( pwc == 2 ) { document.write(‘ 1′); } document.write(‘:’); document.write(‘passwd” size=”30″ maxlength=”127″ style=”width:100%;”>’); if ( pwc == 2 ) { document.write(‘’ + _(“Password2″) + ‘ passwd1” size=”30″ maxlength=”127″ style=”width:100%;”>’); } UnsetCookie(“pwcount”); }
  The JavaScript below contains the revised fields so that when a user POSTs their credentials, NetScaler will can evaluate RADIUS before attempting to contact AD. The values passwd1 andpasswd are swapped.  
  function ns_showpwd_default() { var pwc = ns_getcookie(“pwcount”); document.write(‘’ + _(“Password”)); if ( pwc == 2 ) { document.write(‘ 1′); } document.write(‘:’); document.write(‘passwd1” size=”30″ maxlength=”127″ style=”width:100%;”>’); if ( pwc == 2 ) { document.write(‘’ + _(“Password2″) + ‘ passwd” size=”30″ maxlength=”127″ style=”width:100%;”>’); } UnsetCookie(“pwcount”); }
With this configuration, we can remove an avenue for would-be attackers who intend to lockout users. Also, below are some relevant links for NetScaler Gateway customizations. Have you worked at an organization that has come under attack from user lockouts? What have you done to mitigate the threat? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to ask questions! Thanks for reading, BC

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