Angler Exploit kit breaks Referer chain using HTTPS to HTTP redirection

The author(s) behind Angler EK is known to release reliable exploit(s) for flash/IE and to use various techniques to break various logics used by analysis products for the detection. Recently a security researcher blogged about a new technique used by Angler EK to break the referer chain. Today i got a chance to look into another pcap from ThreatGlass. Looking into the initial request to the exploit delivery server, it misses the referer field.


Looking deeper, the previous HTTP session #57 does a browser refresh using “meta” . Interestingly it uses Google short link service to break this referer chain. Interestingly it uses a HTTPS link.


Lets try to access this Google Short link using wget. Request to https : // /cXQJ9c redirects the browser to a HTTP link using 302 HTTP response method.


As per the RFC 7231, web browsers will not send the Referer when there is a transition from a HTTPS link to a HTTP link.

The Referer field has the potential to reveal information about the
request context or browsing history of the user, which is a privacy
concern if the referring resource's identifier reveals personal
information (such as an account name) or a resource that is supposed
to be confidential (such as behind a firewall or internal to a
secured service).  Most general-purpose user agents do not send the
Referer header field when the referring resource is a local "file" or
"data" URI.  A user agent MUST NOT send a Referer header field in an
unsecured HTTP request if the referring page was received with a
secure protocol.
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1 Response to Angler Exploit kit breaks Referer chain using HTTPS to HTTP redirection

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