It was a normal school day. I was at the computer and I needed to print some stuff out. Now this computer is special, it's hooked up onto a different network for students that signed up to use them. How you get to use these computers is by signing up using their forms online.

Unfortunately, for me on that day I needed to print something out and the computer I was working on was not letting me sign in. I called IT real quick and they said I needed to renew my membership. They send me the form, and I quickly fill it out. I hit the submit button and I'm greeted by a single line error written in php.

Someone had forgotten to turn off the debug mode to the server.
Upon examination of the error message, it was a syntax error at line 29 in directory such and such. This directory, i thought to myself, I know where this is. I quickly started my ftp client and was able to find the actual file in the directory that the error mentioned. What I didn't know, was that I'd find a mountain of passwords inside their php files, because they were automating all of the authentications.

Curious as I was, I followed the link database that was in the php file. UfFortunately, someone in IT hadn't thought far enough to make the actual link unseeable. I was greeted by the full database. There was nothing of real value from what I could see. Mostly forms that had been filled out by students.

Not only this, but I was displeased with the bad passwords. These passwords were maybe of 5 characters long, super simple words and a couple number tacked onto the end.

That day, I sent in a ticket to IT and told them about the issue. They quickly remedied it by turning off debug mode on the servers. However, they never did shut down access to the database and the php files...

  • 17
    So you now have access to everyones passwords?

  • 3
    Oh man, a pentesters paradise. Good on you for alerting them to it though.
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