Understanding HTTP Authentication Basic and Digest

HTTP authentication uses methodologies via which web servers and browsers securely exchanges the credentials like usernames and passwords. HTTP authentication or we can also call it as Digest Authentication follows the predefined methods/standards which use encoding techniques and MD5 cryptographic hashing over HTTP protocol.

In this article, we are covering the methodologies/standards used for HTTP Authentication.

For the sake of understanding, we will be using our php scripts that will simply capture user name and passwords and we will generate the Authorization value as per the standards.

For http codes visit here

Basic Access Authentication using Base 64 Encoding

In basic Authentication, we will be using base 64 encoding for generating our cryptographic string which contains the information of username and password. Please note we can use any of the encoding techniques like URL, Hexadecimal, or any other we want.

The below example illustrates the concept, we are using Burpsuite for capturing and illustrating the request.

The webpage is asking for input from the client

We are providing “hackingarticles” as User Name and “ignite” as a password.

The syntax of Basic Authentication

Value = username:password

Encoded Value =  base64(Value)

Authorization Value = Basic <Encoded Value> 

In basic authentication username and password are combined into a single string using a colon in between.

Value =  hackingarticles:ignite

This string is then encoded using base 64 encoding.

Encoded Value = base64 encoded value of hackingarticles:ignite which is aGFja2luZ2FydGljbGVzOmlnbml0ZQ==

Finally, the Authorization Value is obtained by putting the text “Basic” followed by <space> before the encoded value. (We can capture the request using burpsuite to see the result)

The Authorization Value for this example is “Basic aGFja2luZ2FydGljbGVzOmlnbml0ZQ==“. This is the value which is sent to the server.  

Finally, the server is decrypting the authorization value and returning the entered credentials

Basic Authentication is a less secure way because here we are only using encoding and the authorization value can be decoded, In order to enhance the security we have other standards discussed further.

RFC 2069 Digest Access Authentication

Digest Access Authentication uses the hashing methodologies to generate the cryptographic result. Here the final value is sent as a response value.

RFC 2069 authentication is now outdated now and RFC2617 which is an enhanced version of RFC2069 is being used. 

For the sake of understanding the syntax of RFC 2069 is explained below.

Syntax of RFC2069

Hash1 contains the MD5 hash value of (username:realm:password) where the realm is any string

provided by server and username and passwords are the input provided by the client.

Hash2 contains the MD5 hash value of (method:digestURI) where a method could be got or post depending on the page request and digestURI is the URL of the page where the request is being sent. 

the response is the final string which is being sent to the server and contains the MD5 hash value of (hash1:nounce:hash2) where hash1 and hash2 have generated above and nonce is an arbitrary string that could be used only one time provided by the server to the client.

RFC 2617 Digest Access Authentication

RFC 2617 digest authentication also uses MD5 hashing algorithm but the final hash value is generated with some additional parameters

Syntax of RFC2617

Hash1 contains the MD5 hash value of (username:realm:password) where realm is any string

Provided by server and username and passwords are the input provided by the client.

Hash2 contains the MD5 hash value of (method:digestURI) where a method could get or post depending on the page request and digestURI is the URL of the page where the request is being sent. 

the response is the final string which is being sent to the server  and contains the MD5 hash value of (Hash1:nonce:nonceCount:cnonce:qop:Hash2) where Hash1 and Hash2 are generated above

and for more details on other parameters refer to ” https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc780170(v=ws.10).aspx”

The actual working of RFC2617 is described below

The webpage is asking for input from the client

We are providing “guest” as User Name and “guest” as a password.

Through burpsuite, we are capturing the request so that all the parameters could be captured and we can compare the hash values captured with the hash values that we will generate through any other tool (hash calculator in this case).

We have captured the values for the following parameters

The MD5 hash value is calculated as 2c6165332ebd26709360786bafd2cd49

Hash2 Syntax =MD5 (method:digestURI)

Hash2=MD5 (GET:/auth/02-2617.php)

MD5 hash value is calculated as b6a6df472ee01a9dbccba5f5e6271ca8

MD5 hash is calculated as  ac8e3ecd76d33dd482783b8a8b67d8c1

Finally, the response value obtained through the hash calculator is exactly the same as that we have captured with burp suit above. 

Finally, the server is decrypting the response value and the following is the result

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Understand Hashing in Cryptography (A Practical Approach)

Cryptography is the conversion of plain readable text into the unreadable form. In cryptography first, the data is converted into ciphertext (that is encryption) and then the ciphertext is converted back into readable form (that is decryption). Cryptography basically works on the concept of encryption and decryption. Encryption and decryption should not be confused with encoding and decoding, in which data is converted from one form to another but is not deliberately altered so as to conceal its content. Encryption is achieved through the algorithms. These algorithms are works with logic, mathematics calculations, and its complexities.

Hash Function is the most important function in Cryptography. A hash means a 1 to 1 relationship between data. This is a common data type in languages, although sometimes it’s called a dictionary. A hash algorithm is a way to take an input and always have the same output, otherwise known as a 1 to 1 function. An ideal hash function is when this same process always yields a unique output. So you can tell someone, here is a file, and here is its md5 hash. If the file has been corrupted during then the md5 hash will be a different value.

In practice, a hash function will always produce a value of the same size, for instance, md5 () it will always return 128bits no matter the size of the input. This makes a 1 to 1 relationship impossible. A cryptographic hash function takes extra precautions in making it difficult to produce 2 different inputs with the same output, this is called a collision. It also makes it difficult to reverse the function. Hash functions are used for password storage because if an attacker where to obtain the password’s hash then it forces the attacker to break the hash before he can use it to log in. To break hashes, attackers will take a word list or an English dictionary and find all of the corresponding hash values and then iterate through the list for each password looking for a match.

md5 (), sha0 and sha1 () are all vulnerable to hash collision attacks and should never be used for anything security related. Instead, any member of the sha-2 family, such as sha-256 should be used.

To calculate the Hash Value, we will use a Hash Calculator. Install Hash Calculator from –> http://www.slavasoft.com/hashcalc/

Hash function plays a major role in the hacking/forensic world because it helps us to know whether a particular file has changed or not. You can also calculate the hash value of your computer and know if anyone has made any kind of changes.

To calculate the hash value open Hash Calculator.

Now browse the file of which you want to calculate the hash value. And click on Calculate.

After clicking on calculate it will give too hash values using four different hashing algorithms i.e MD5, SHA1, RIPEMD160, CRC32. You can check other boxes too if you want to use those algorithms to calculate the hash value.

This way Hash calculator helps us to know the hash value. Now if there are any changes made in this file, the hash value will change too.

Once I calculated the hash value above I made some changes in the file and calculated the hash value again with the same method and as a result, the hash value was changed.

Now, we have two hash values. Let us compare both of these values of MD5. The value of first file is 1110808875326e25dl93e4ee096afaf1 and the value of other file is fb9d53883f302d78c978a583e8a85.

Seeing these two values of MD5 of the same file we can conclude that some changes are made. Because even the slightest difference will change the hash value.

But now the main question is how to detect this change because a file can be of 1TB too. Also, imagine that you are sending a hard disk full of important documents to someone and there is a huge possibility that someone can bribe the sender and make changes in your documents. So how can you detect these changes?

The answer is very simple –> Compare it! This tool helps us achieve our goal which is to detect the change.

Download Compare it! From —>http://www.grigsoft.com/wincmp3.htm

Open Compare it!

Click the file and a drop menu will appear. Select the compare files option.

A Dialogue box will open which will ask you to choose the files that you want to compare. Click on Browse button and select your file. And click on Open.

It will show you the changes by highlighting them with green colour and the red colour will tell the exact change as shown below:

So, in such a way you can protect your sensitive data and detect the crime done too.

Author: Yashika Dhir is a passionate Researcher and Technical Writer at Hacking Articles. She is a hacking enthusiast. contact here

Beginner Guide of Cryptography (Part 1)

Cryptography is a conversion of plain readable text into an unreadable form. In cryptography first, the data is converted into ciphertext (that is encryption) and then the ciphertext is converted back into readable form (that is decryption). Cryptography basically works on the concept of encryption and decryption. Encryption and decryption should not be confused with encoding and decoding, in which data is converted from one form to another but is not deliberately altered so as to conceal its content. Encryption is achieved through the algorithms. These algorithms are works with logic, mathematics calculations and its complexities.

Encryption: Encrypted data is referred to as ciphertext. Cyphertext is a conversion of readable text into an unreadable form. It is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it. 

Decryption: Decryption is the process of converting encrypted data back into its original form, so it can be understood. To decrypt the data one needs a secret key or password so it can be decrypted.

Encryption can be done in three ways:

  1. Symmetric
  2. Asymmetric
  3. Hash

Symmetric: Symmetric encryption’s job is to take readable data, scramble it to make it unreadable, then unscramble it again when it’s needed. It’s generally fast, and there are lots of good encryption methods to choose from.  The most important thing to remember about symmetric encryption is that both sides—the encrypter, and the decrypter—need access to the same key.

Asymmetric: Asymmetric encryption also takes readable data, scrambles it, and unscrambles it again at the other end, but there’s a twist: a different key is used for each end.  Encrypters use a public key to scramble the data, and decrypters use the matching private (secret) key on the other end to unscramble it again.

Hash: Hashing is what is actually happening when you hear about passwords being “encrypted”.  Strictly speaking, hashing is not a form of encryption, though it does use cryptography.  Hashing takes data and creates a hash out of it, a string of data with three important properties : the same data will always produce the same hash, it’s impossible to reverse it back to the original data, given knowledge of only the hash, it’s infeasible to create another string of data that will create the same hash (called a “collision” in crypto parlance). hash is to authenticate otherwise clearly-transmitted data using a shared secret (effectively, a key.) The hash is generated from the data and this secret so that only the data and the hash are visible; the shared secret is not transmitted and it thus becomes infeasible to modify either the data or the hash without such modification being detected.

Now, there are very simple methods to achieve cryptography in our day to day life so that our data sharing can be done securely.

For Symmetric encryption we can simply visit the website: www.aesencryption.net, shown below :

On this website in the first box writing your message and in the second box give your password and then click on the encrypt button on the right side.

The website will now reload itself and will provide you with the encrypted text. Send this encrypted text to the desired person and tell them the key (which, in this case, is time).

The said person, after receiving your encrypted message, can come on this website to decrypt it. He/She will simply have to copy the encrypted text and paste it on the first box and enter the key in the next box and click on the decrypt button on the right side as shown below :

After clicking on decrypt the site will reload itself and will provide you with plain text.

Hence, symmetric encryption.

For Asymmetric encryption, we can simply go to www.igolder.com/pgp/generate-key/, the following website will open

Click on generate PGP keys, after opening the website. A public and private key will be generated.

Now, copy the public key and click on PGP encrypt message option, it will redirect to the following page

Paste the public key in the first box and write your message in the second box. By clicking on Encrypt Message, you will get your message encrypted.

Now, copy this encrypted message to the desired person along with the private key which you generated in the first step. The same person can also visit this site and click on PGP decrypt message option to decrypt the message. After clicking on the said option, the following page will open:

He/She can copy the private key and encrypted message and paste it on the first and second box respectively.

At last click on Decrypt message and your message will be decrypted.

Author: Yashika Dhir is a passionate Researcher and Technical Writer at Hacking Articles. She is a hacking enthusiast. contact here