(This is an authentic email we received at Haxx the other day. Names, emails and URLs are replaced in this excerpt to save the innocent)

Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 14:59:25
Subject: haking

hello, can you tell me how to hack into web site:
so it is showing:

when you click on a link in google results?

for example if you click on a google result:
[URL to a google.rs search for something on the FIRST URL site]

the point is i would like to protect my web site form that kind of attack so please let me know how to do that

how did i found you? there is your address at [FIRST URL]/coockies.txt so i think you did it, but was polite enough to leave address.. please help me.

Of course I was curious enough to check the “coockies.txt” file, and the beginning of that file looked like this:

# Netscape HTTP Cookie File
# http://curlm.haxx.se/rfc/cookie_spec.html
# This file was generated by libcurl! Edit at your own risk.
[FIRST URL] FALSE	/	FALSE	0	PHPSESSID	dfn1a5ll0hs8odpfh3p2qtlcj3

This tells us a few trivial things, all of which might not be obvious to the untrained eye:

  • The file was generated by libcurl that was 7.16.0 or later, but no later than 7.18.3 as we only used the URL in that file between those releases.
  • The spelling of that cookie file is so hilarious we can guess it wasn’t a native English speaker who named it. The subject of the email is similarly bad so perhaps it was a fellow countryman of Serbia? (the TLD of the google URL was .rs after all)
  • The person doing this didn’t even try to clean up the remaining junk file(s) afterwards
  • The guy sending me the email is completely in the blue of what has happened or even who he’s contacting or my relation to this all.
  • The world can be a harsh and cruel place and it isn’t easy to know your way around all of it…

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