Episode from the podcastEasy Prey

Hacking with James Kettle

Released Wednesday, 3rd June 2020
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Have you ever wondered how hackers find vulnerabilities and how companies can find and fix their own? You will find out today! On average 30,000 new websites are hacked every day.
Our guest for this episode is James Kettle. James is the Director of Research at PortSwigger Web Security where he explores new ways to attack websites and designs and refines vulnerability detection techniques for the Burp Suites scanner. 
James shares his hacking experience and hard work helping companies keep their websites secure from all the crazy stuff going on out there.  On today’s episode, James shares his expertise to help you be more aware of possible red flags and prevention measures to take to protect yourself and your website.

Show Notes:

  • [00:40] - When James was at university he saw that Google said they would pay anybody that could hack their website. He thought that sounded like fun and spent a huge amount of time doing that. 
  • [01:02] - Now James works at PortSwigger and researches new techniques to hack websites. 
  • [01:11] - Bounty programs are where a company wants to make sure their product or website doesn’t get hacked by malicious people so they go out and publicly say that anyone is welcome to try and hack their website. If you are successful and you don’t do any damage, but you tell them how you did it they will pay you for it and then fix it. 
  • [03:45] - Pen testing is the classic approach to securing your website where you pay a consultant to spend one or two weeks trying to hack your website. 
  • [05:14] - It is totally worth it to get that third party view. Developers often can’t find problems with their own products. 
  • [06:13] - If you want to find a vulnerability on a website you need to use an attack technique.  
  • [07:15] - These days they see a lot of cross-site scripting vulnerabilities and it’s the most common one they see. 
  • [07:37] - One of the most common causes of high impact breaches is access control issues.  
  • [08:45] - James shares the biggest data breach they were able to do during their testing. 
  • [10:31] - Try to use a framework whenever possible, because it makes things like sequel injection less likely to happen.  
  • [11:01] - The standard approach after you make the website is to try to get someone else to look at it. 
  • [11:27] - With Wordpress, it is very important to keep it up to date, install as few plug-ins as possible, and choose a good password. 
  • [14:08] - Use as few browser extensions as possible to avoid possible malware issues. 
  • [15:25] - Most people are not being personally targeted by hackers so the threats that most people need to watch out for are things that can be automated. 
  • [16:10] - If you are using the same password on multiple websites you are going to get hacked. 
  • [17:02] - A common misconception is that if you have a strong unique password then it doesn’t matter if you reuse it. 
  • [18:03] - James uses websites with the assumption that all the data I give this website is going to end up public at some point. 
  • [18:45] - Provide the minimum information possible. 
  • [20:19] - James shares his all-time favorite story. 
  • [22:33] - If an entity builds their security around detecting when people are attacking them then running a bug bounty would be harmful because they have no idea who is legitimate or hostile. If your website is on the internet, it is being attacked.
  • [23:35] - When you are being attacked, it is important to know that it most likely isn’t personal.


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